The human hand is a unique and highly complex effector. The ability to describe hand kinematics with a small number of features suggests that complex hand movements are composed of combinations of simpler movements. This would greatly simplify the neural control of hand movements. If such movement primitives exist, a dimensionality reduction approach designed to exploit these features should outperform existing methods. We developed a deep neural network to capture the temporal dynamics of movements and demonstrate that the features learned allow accurate representation of functional hand movements using lower-dimensional representations than previously reported. We show that these temporal features are highly conserved across individuals and can interpolate previously unseen movements, indicating that they capture the intrinsic structure of hand movements. These results indicate that functional hand movements are defined by a low-dimensional basis set of movement primitives with important temporal dynamics and that these features are common across individuals.
Elsevier (Cell Press)