Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Science
A central theme of my research programme has been to understand the psychological and brain mechanisms through which sensory information is used to plan and control human action. During goal directed… read more
A central theme of my research programme has been to understand the psychological and brain mechanisms through which sensory information is used to plan and control human action. During goal directed movements such as reaching out to pick up a glass of water, sensory signals must be transformed into appropriate motor commands. For visually guided movements, this involves translating visual information, signalling the spatial position of the target, into a motor plan which specifies the sequence of postural changes required to bring the hand to the target. An issue of fundamental importance is therefore to understand how visual information, specifying position, shape and surface texture of an object, is combined with somatosensory information signalling the current state of the body (e.g. limb position), and then used to generate the appropriate motor command signals.
My colleagues and I investigate the nature of the sensorimotor transformations which underlie goal-directed action in three ways. Firstly, we examine how unconstrained reaching movements are planned and executed by healthy adults. A key focus of these investigations is frequently to dissociate visual and somatosensory cues during the planning and execution of movement. Secondly, we examine how movement planning and control mechanisms are altered by brain damage or brain disease. Finally, we try to localise the brain mechanisms which underlie our ability to plan and control human action using a variety of non-invasive brain imaging techniques such as event-related electroencephalography, transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging.
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