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 interprets the actor as a dynamical system, which is high-dimensional, nonlinear, and capable of producing coordinated and adaptive actions. Our research pursues a three-pronged research strategy consisting of:
- an empirical component with behavioral experiments on human subjects using virtual environments,
- theoretical work which develops mathematical models of the behavioral task using dynamical systems, and
- brain imaging and stimulation studies that investigate the cerebral activity accompanying coordinated actions.
More recently, we have extended these experimental paradigms to individuals with neurological disorders such as dystonia and autism and to the elderly.
Our research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (R21-HD089731, R01-HD087089, R01-HD081346), the National Science Foundation (NSF-NRI 1637854, CRCNS-1723998, M3X-1825942), the Simons Foundation and an ARM grant.
Action Lab News
April 2019: Se-Woong will transition into a tenure-track faculty position in the city where his family lives - what a stroke of luck! All the best for Se-Woong’s new life and career.
April 2019: Dagmar received the award of University Distinguished Professor.
In January 2019, Marta and Aleksei started to record from dancers from the Boston Ballet to study postural balance at perfection! Take a look: What can ballet dancers teach us about balance?.
Salah’s new paper in Chaos was chosen as an editor’s pick. See the short description of the research on stability in our cup of coffee task in Scilight. It also received press coverage in Physics Today.
Zhaoran will be Dr. Zhaoran Zhang from now on. Congratulations to a fabulous performance! And here she is.
On May 26, our team completed the outreach activity at the Museum of Science on: “Catch the mouse: Prediction in interaction with dynamic objects.” Between June 2017 and May 2018 our team collected 449 subjects: Hannah Tam, Se-Woong Park, Rashida Nayeem, Zhaoran Zhang, Abigail Cahill, Jim Papadopoulos, Salah Bazzi, Michael Graham, Jeffrey Zhu, Anne Sigl, Ellesse Cooper, Oliver Cervantes, Kaleb Noruzi, and Sasha Dubinsky (in no specific order). The video shows the 3-person shift on the final day: Abigail Cahill, Jeffrey Zhu and Oliver Cervantes. Congratulations!
Salah Bazzi had his paper to ICRA 2018 accepted only 6 months after starting in the lab. Continue!
Selected Recent Publications
- 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.
- Maurice, P., Hogan, N., & Sternad, D. (2018). Predictability, effort, and (anti-)resonance in complex object control. Journal of Neurophysiology, 120, 2, 765-780.
- 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.
- 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.