For decades, prevailing models of voluntary behavior assume a functional architecture of serial information processing stages categorized as perceptual, cognitive, and motor control modules. Thus, the role of the motor system is viewed as limited to implementing the course of a single motor program commanded by the cognitive system. Here, we seek for an alternative, more ecological framework, supporting continuous interaction across perception, cognition and action processes. Using multi-faceted approaches including online eye and hand movement tracking, fMRI and EEG, and neurophysiological methods, we are examining how actions are intertwined with higher-level cognitive processes, such as selection of multiple goals, visual attention, and decision-making.
Compared to discrete responses such as button presses, the analysis of continuous overt behaviors has the advantage of allowing internal temporal target selection processes to be mapped onto a visible 3D space. We examine how visuo-motor behavior can provide a useful tool to study a wide range of conscious and unconscious cognitive processes including the current locus of attention, the nature of language representation, spatial representation of number, high-level decision-making, preference choice as well as reward. We also apply online action tracking methods to understand cognitive development trajectories in early childhood
Studies on motor control and motor learning have been largely concerned with the details of the underlying neurophysiology and anatomy of the motor system. Furthermore, sensory-motor learning has been considered a procedural process requiring few attentional resources. Thus, to date, little is known about how attention might play a role in determining how we learn and maintain new visuomotor skills in a daily life. Combining behavioral and fMRI techniques, we examine how attentional resources and attentional states play a role in learning and recall of a new visuomotor skill and its generalization.
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