At UC San Diego researchers use Vizard to study human sensorimotor control and learning

client: University of California, San Diego, Poizner Lab

research field: Human Sensorimotor Control and Learning

equipment used: WorldViz Vizard Virtual Reality Software Toolkit, Phasespace tracking system, Sensics VR headset, WorldViz Ambisonic Auralizer Sound System

The long-range objective of the laboratory is to better understand the neural bases of human sensorimotor control and learning.  Our approach is to analyze normal motor control and learning processes, and the nature of the breakdown in those processes in patients with selective failure of specific sensory or motor systems of the brain.  Toward this end, we have developed novel methods of imaging and graphic analysis of spatiotemporal patterns inherent in digital records of movement trajectories. We monitor movements of the limbs, body, head, and eyes, both in real environments and in 3D multimodal, immersive virtual environments, and recently have added synchronous recording of high-definition EEG.

One domain of our studies is Parkinson’s disease.  Our studies have been dissecting out those elements of sensorimotor processing which may be most impaired in Parkinsonism, and those elements that may most crucially depend upon basal ganglia function and cannot be compensated for by other brain systems.  Since skilled movement and learning may be considered opposite sides of the same coin, we also are investigating learning in Parkinson’s disease: how Parkinson’s patients learn to adapt their movements in altered sensorimotor environments; how their eye-hand coordination changes over the course of learning sequences; and how their neural dynamics are altered when learning to make decisions based on reward. Finally, we are examining the ability of drug versus deep brain stimulation therapies to ameliorate deficits in these functions.