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Motor Control Group
We are still not able to build robotic devices that can match the efficiency and grace with which our brain produces skilled movements. The complexity of our bodies, the noise inherent in our muscles, and the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of the environment make motor control one of the hardest computational problems that the brain faces. What are the principles that underlie the production of coordinated movements? How are skilled movements learned? Which brain areas are involved? How does the brain compensate after damage to these areas? In the motor control lab, we are using robotic devices to investigate human arm and hand movements. By simulating novel objects or dynamic environments we can study how the brain recalibrates old motor skills or acquires new ones. We develop computational models to understand the processes underlying control and learning. These insights are used to design fMRI studies to investigate how these processes map onto the brain. To do this, we have developed a number of novel techniques of how to study motor control in the MRI environment, and how to analyze MRI data of the human cerebellum. Finally, we study patients with stroke or neurological disease to further determine how the brain manages to control the body. After all – that is what the brain “does”.
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