Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain study: Deconstructing goal-oriented movement

Date:
May 14, 2014
Source:
University of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
Our human brains are filled with maps: visual maps of our external environments, and motor maps that define how we interact physically within those environments. Somehow these separate points of reference need to correspond with -- and to -- one another in order for us to act, whether it's grasping a coffee cup or hitting a tennis ball.

Anatomical regions of interest for a typical participant.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Santa Barbara

Our human brains are filled with maps: visual maps of our external environments, and motor maps that define how we interact physically within those environments. Somehow these separate points of reference need to correspond with -- and to -- one another in order for us to act, whether it's grasping a coffee cup or hitting a tennis ball.

Related Articles


How that happens is the focus of a new study by scientists at UC Santa Barbara. The researchers used neuroimaging to decode how the brain transforms sensory input into action. Their findings are reported in The Journal of Neuroscience.

A doctoral student in UCSB's new Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Dynamical Neuroscience, lead author Deborah Barany and colleagues measured brain activity as participants made wrist movements in different directions (left and right, or up and down) in one of two postures while in an MRI scanner.

"Trying to record the movements performed in the scanner was the first major challenge of the experiment," Barany said. To accomplish this, she implemented a sophisticated setup in which cameras recorded LED lights placed on the right hand to track very fine movements during brain scanning. "We were ultimately able to gather a rich set of movement data to relate to brain activity."

The researchers used an analysis technique that allowed them to parse out the specific patterns of brain activity corresponding to different aspects of movement. Building on previous research, they found brain areas containing maps for the spatial location where a movement was to go as well as the actual movement direction. One of these areas, the superior parietal lobule, contained information for both location and direction, suggesting that this area helps facilitate the transformation process.

An unexpected finding was that these movement-related maps were highly sensitive to the posture of the hand. "It was surprising to see representations of posture throughout the motor system," said Barany. "This may mean that posture-dependent planning is more widespread in the brain than previously thought."

"Even if you can distinguish brain activity for two actions, you still don't know if that is because of differences in where things are in the world or differences in the way the muscles are being used," said Scott Grafton, a professor in UCSB's Department of Psychological and Brain Science and director of the campus's Action Lab, where Barany is a member. "What Deborah figured out how to do is overcome that uncertainty using state-of-the-art decoding methods."

This work helps to explain the deficits of patients with neurological damage affecting the processing of visuomotor transformations. The researchers' findings may guide the development of novel therapies to treat patients with optic ataxia (an inability to accurately reach to objects) and ideomotor apraxia (a deficit in imitating gestures under command).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Santa Barbara. The original article was written by Julie Cohen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. A. Barany, V. Della-Maggiore, S. Viswanathan, M. Cieslak, S. T. Grafton. Feature Interactions Enable Decoding of Sensorimotor Transformations for Goal-Directed Movement. Journal of Neuroscience, 2014; 34 (20): 6860 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5173-13.2014

Cite This Page:

University of California - Santa Barbara. "Brain study: Deconstructing goal-oriented movement." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140514153239.htm>.
University of California - Santa Barbara. (2014, May 14). Brain study: Deconstructing goal-oriented movement. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140514153239.htm
University of California - Santa Barbara. "Brain study: Deconstructing goal-oriented movement." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140514153239.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins