Simultaneous measurement of orientation perception and
eye movement in response to centripetal acceleration
Among the most compelling outcomes of evolution are the neural mechanisms that support our ability to sense and navigate through a complex environment, and to interact with elements within it as well as with each other. These tasks are controlled by neural systems that guide multiple motor actions with the aid of several sensory modalities. Audition and vision provide information about external elements, while proprioceptive and vestibular inputs convey motion and orientation of the body and its parts. These inputs are processed by the brain, whose reflex, volitional, adaptive, and cognitive abilities in turn control appropriate actions to ensure a lifetime of successful behavior. How these different sensory modalities are integrated to yield meaningful action despite a lifetime of challenges (development, aging, and disease) constitutes a binding topic within our group.
Areas of Research Interest
Specific topics of research focus on three general areas related to how different sensory modalities are combined to govern spatial and interactive behavior:
Multi-sensory interactions and sensori-motor integration
Plasticity, learning and recovery of function
Computational, theoretical, and dynamic modeling approaches to spatial and interactive behavior.
These topics are not mutually exclusive, and are instead synergistic. Our integrative approach recognizes that no sensory or motor modality evolved alone, but rather in tandem to support the complexities of daily activities. Research programs across the Group reflect faculty expertise in auditory, vestibular, visual and somatosensory modalities. Several faculty hold formal training in engineering, mathematics, and physical sciences in addition to neuroscience. These attributes lead naturally to multi-disciplinary approaches that span cognition and behavior, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, theoretical and computational neurobiology, development and aging, and translational-clinical neurobiology.
Basic and Translational Research in Humans
A subset of faculty study human sensori-motor systems. What cannot be addressed at the level of cells and circuits is countered by other advantages. First, functional imaging now provides powerful tools to link human neurobiology with mechanistic approaches established in animal research. Second, the efficiency of engaging humans in a sensori-motor research environment opens extraordinary options for the investigation of perception and its associations with raw sensory input and motor action in ways that are difficult if not impossible in other species. It is the blending of species and technologies that we believe provides a unique and synergistic opportunity to investigate and ultimately understand a variety of complex neural functions. Toward that goal, we have established a set of state-of-the-art laboratories for the quantitative study of integrative neural function in humans. Our version of human neurobiology combines psychophysics with neurophysiology and functional anatomy, and links these with expertise in biomedical engineering, computational/theoretical neurobiology, and clinical disciplines.