The central interest of research in the Action Lab is the acquisition and control of goal-directed human movements. What organizational principles are at work in movement coordination? What principles guide the acquisition of novel skills? Specifically, our research focuses on the acquisition of novel perceptual-motor skills and on the manipulation of complex objects. The theoretical framework that pervades our studies is that humans control their actions in terms of dynamic primitives. To achieve their dexterous and adaptive actions and interactions with objects and the environment humans exploit the nonlinear and high-dimensional neuromechanical system. Our research pursues a three-pronged research strategy consisting of: 1.an empirical component with behavioral experiments on human subjects in real and virtual environments, 2.theoretical work which develops mathematical models of the behavioral task using dynamical systems, and 3.clinical studies that apply our experimental and theoretical approaches to understand the computational basis of a coordination disorder. Our research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01-HD087089, R01-CRCNS-NS120579), the National Science Foundation (NRI-1637854, CRCNS-1723998, M3X-1825942), and the Simons Foundation.

Action Lab News

April 2021

April 18, 2021: Dagmar received a US Scholar Fulbright fellowship to visit University Tor Vergata in Rome during her sabbatical. She will join Prof. Andrea d’Avella and our former postdoc Marta Russo there.

April 2021

April 15, 2021: Sabrina Bond received the prestigious Barry Goldwater fellowship. We are all proud of Sabrina!

March 2021

March 8, 2021: Salah Bazzi advanced to a research scientist in the Institute for Experiential Robotics at Northeastern. While he will stay grounded in the Action Lab he will initiate more research links to robotics, his home turf.

August 2020

August 13, 2020: Only 3 days later, Aleksei Krotov presented his thesis: “Human Control of Flexible Objects: Hitting a Target with a Bullwhip”. He earned his master’s degree with this research.

August 2020

August 10, 2020: Our own Ian Zuzarte became Dr. Zuzarte! His thesis was on: “Movement as a Vital Sign: Early Movement Monitoring in High-Risk Infants”.

June 2020

On May 31, 2020, Dagmar and Aude Billard (EPFL) held a virtual workshop on “Learning of Manual Skills in Humans and Robots”. Click here for video talks. This workshop was part of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2020), that should have taken place in Paris … but we saw it through at our computers …

February 2020

January 2020: Rashida and Salah have two papers accepted at ICRA 2020 in Paris.

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Selected Recent Publications

  1. Bazzi, S., Ebert, J., Hogan, N., & Sternad, D. (2018). Stability and predictability in human control of complex objects. Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, 28(10), 103103.
  2. Maurice, P., Hogan, N., & Sternad, D. (2018). Predictability, effort, and (anti-)resonance in complex object control. Journal of Neurophysiology, 120, 2, 765-780.
  3. Zhang, Z., Guo, D., Huber, M.E., Park, S-W., & Sternad, D. (2018). Exploiting the geometry of solution space to reduce sensitivity to neuromotor noise. PLoS Computational Biology, 14, 2, e1006013.
  4. Sternad, D. (2018). It’s not (only) the mean that matters: variability, noise and exploration in skill acquisition. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 20, 183-195.

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