Action and Perception Laboratory
The main focus of the scientific activities of the lab is to advance the understanding of the mechanisms involved in the production of goal oriented actions. The working hypothesis is that action and perception processes are strongly linked. Consequently action production is studied by considering both motor command and perceptual feedback. Perception is investigated through several experimental paradigms based on the idea of online mental simulation of the observed action. Action is studied by considering simple (arm) and whole body movements, where empirical observations are associated to numerical simulations. Among several specifics questions that are addressed we try to understand how the gravity force field is represented at the different levels of the CNS. A potential cognitive representation is studied using the recorded kinematic and muscle activity of simple arm reach to grasp movement performed in a real or a virtual environment. A sensorimotor representation is also considered by studying the multijoint body mechanical system during a whole body reach to grasp motion. The existence and the combination of specific motor primitives is investigated in the frame of our understanding of the coordination of reaching and equilibrium subgoals inherent to this complex task. The plasticity of action production is investigated after hypo activity and learning. Functional (motor efficiency through kinematic analysis) and structural (brain plasticity through transcranial magnetic stimulation SEP and MEP recording) experiments are conducted simultaneously.
A few examples of the ongoing research activity are: