Brain and behaviour

Brain and Behaviour Research Group

Enhancing the performance of everyday activities

We are a team of internationally-recognised scientists who study human motor behaviour from the neural level through to perception and cognition.

The Brain and Behaviour Research Group has staff with a range of complimentary skills and experience that collaborate on two broad and related research themes, namely sensorimotor neuroscience and expert performance and learning.

Sensorimotor neuroscience

Our research seeks to better understand the processes involved in typical and atypical (e.g., autism spectrum condition, stroke patients) human motor behaviour, with the intention to facilitate the individual’s interaction within their surrounds.

Central to all projects is the detailed analysis of human movement while performing in habitual, novel or perturbed conditions. The research is conducted in 3 co-located purpose-built laboratories that allow for studies of: i) gait and balance; ii) visual regulation of interceptive actions; iii) perception-action coupling in simulated life-size projected displays; iv) oculomotor and oculomanual control; v) upper limb manual aiming, and vi) action-observation.

Facilities and equipment

The laboratories are equipped with specialist devices for whole-body kinematic data collection (Vicon Nexus; Vicon Bonita), as well as high resolution eye movement registration (Chronos Vision CETD, EyeLink 1000, Cambridge Research Laboratories EOG) and video-based gaze tracking (Ergoneers Dikablis). We also perform assessment of fine motor control (Optotrak 3D Investigator, Ascension trakSTAR, Wacom A3 wide graphics tablets) in response to visual stimuli presented with high spatial and temporal resolution at near (ViewPixx EEG) or far space (Barco Graphics 908).

We have a dedicated neural control of movement laboratory where we use transcranial magnetic stimulation (Magstim BiStim) and electrical stimulation (Rogue Solutions tDCS) to investigate the underlying processes involved in action-observation and adapted motor behaviour (e.g., normal ageing). Motor cortex output is measured via motor evoked potentials (DelSys Bagnoli), whereas use of remote optics and EOG permit simultaneous measurement of eye movements.

Expert performance and learning

Our goal is to improve the performance, training and learning of complex, dynamic tasks and domains through research, education and applied solutions.

Expert performers are required to carry out the work in most domains including sport, medicine, academia, business, music, law enforcement, teaching and firefighting, among many others. We seek to optimise the acquisition of expert performance in these domains using research evidence and cutting-edge technology.

Facilities and equipment

For our research on issues such as expert anticipation and decision making, and quiet eye training, our lab has two life-size simulation video screens, head-free eye tracking systems (ASL Mobile Eye, ASL EYE-TRAC®5), motion analysis and digital video recording apparatus, and a video editing suite.

We are also unique in housing a Nike Inc. SPARQ Sensory Station, plus Vapor Strobe Eyewear, for assessment and intervention aimed at improving visual-cognitive function. This work is complimented by our development of a track system that permits objects to be moved with experimenter-controlled motion parameters, as well as other LCD eyewear (PLATO – Transluscent Technologies) for strobocopic visual presentation.

Collaborations and publications

Collaborations

We work with a global network of collaborative partners from academia and industry, including the English Institute of Sport, England and Wales Cricket Board, The Football Association, Sydney Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre (Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney), Prozone, sportscotland and Manchester United FC.

Current and previous funders for our research include: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Economic and Social Research Council, The Royal Society, The Strategic Promotion of Ageing Research Capacity network, Research into Ageing, Stroke Association, International Progressive MS Alliance and Nike Inc.

Publications

As a group we have published in excess of 500 peer-reviewed articles. Below you’ll find a selection of some of the publications that represent our current work from each group member:

Causer, J., Harvey, A., Snelgrove, R., Arsenault, G., and Vickers, J. N., 2014. Quiet eye training improves surgical knot tying more than traditional technical training. A randomized, controlled study. The American Journal of Surgery, 208(2), 171-177. doi>

Causer, J., McCormick, S. A., and Holmes, P. S., 2013. Congruency of gaze metrics in action, imagery & action observation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 604. doi>

Hayes, S. J., Elliott, D., Andrew, M., Roberts, J. W., and Bennett, S. J. 2012. Dissociable contributions of motor-execution and action-observation to intramanual transfer. Experimental Brain Research, 221(4), 459-466. doi>

McRobert, A. P., Ward, P., Eccles, D. W., and Williams, A. M. 2011. The effect of manipulating context-specific information on perceptual-cognitive processes during a simulated anticipation task. British Journal of Psychology, 102(3), 519-534. doi>

Zietz, D., Johannsen, L., and Hollands, M. 2011. Stepping characteristics and Centre of Mass control during stair descent: Effects of age, fall risk and visual factors. Gait &Posture., 34(2), 279-284. doi>

Benguigui, N., and Bennett, S. J., 2010. Ocular pursuit and the estimation of time-to-contact with accelerating objects in prediction motion are controlled independently based on first-order estimates. Experimental Brain Research, 202(2), 327-339. doi>

Elliott, D., Hansen, S., Grierson, L. E., Lyons, J., Bennett, S. J., and Hayes, S. J., 2010. Goal-directed aiming: two components but multiple processes. Psychological Bulletin, 136(6), 1023-1044. doi>

Hayes, S. J., Elliott, D., and Bennett, S. J. 2010. General motor representations are developed during action-observation. Experimental Brain Research, 204(2), 199-206. doi>

Fujiyama, H., Garry, M. I., Levin, O., Swinnen, S. P., and Summers, J. J., 2009. Age-related differences in inhibitory processes during interlimb coordination. Brain Research, 1262, 38-47. doi>

Cauraugh, J. H., Coombes, S. A., Lodha, N., Naik, S. K., and Summers, J. J., 2009. Upper extremity improvements in chronic stroke: Coupled bilateral load training. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 27(1), 17-25. doi>

McRobert, A. P., Williams, A. M., Ward, P., and Eccles, D. W. 2009. Tracing the process of expertise in a simulated anticipation task. Ergonomics, 52(4), 474-483. doi>

Bennett, S. J., and Barnes, G. R., 2003. Human ocular pursuit during the transient disappearance of a visual target. Journal of Neurophysiology, 90(4), 2504-2520. doi>

Hollands, M. A., Patla, A. E., and Vickers, J. N., 2002. "Look where you're going!": gaze behaviour associated with maintaining and changing the direction of locomotion. Experimental Brain Research, 143(2), 221-230. doi>

People

You'll find our research staff profiles below.

Our postgraduate students are Matthew Andrew, Chris Dutoy, Becca Robins, Makot Uji, Nathan Foster, Kyle Buckley, Stephanie Grafton, David Broadbent, Jordan Whelan, Matt Watts.


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