Manual Action and Motor Anticipation

Acronym: 
M.A.M.A
Research Areas: 
A
Abstract: 

The focus of the M.A.M.A. project is to investigate how humans plan, execute, and control their movements during goal-directed tasks. The M.A.M.A. projects range from basic research on cognition, perception, and action, to understanding the neural bases of motor planning and control in healthy adults and children, as well as in various patient populations. Our research utilizes a variety of psychological approaches and research techniques in order to gain a more complete understanding of human behavior.

Methods and Research Questions: 

The M.A.M.A. projects investigates how humans plan, execute, and control their movements during goal-directed tasks.

Most daily tasks require movements to be planned with respect to future task goals. For example, when grasping an empty cup from a shelf to place it on a counter top, people will typically grasp the cup using the whole hand. However, if the cup is filled with hot coffee, people are more likely to grasp the cup by the handle so as to not burn their hands. We examine how task goals constrain grip selection and movement kinematics in healthy adults and children, as well as in various patient populations. We have found that grasping and placing movements can be separated into an initial grasp and a transport component, within which there are a number of constraints that the system seeks to satisfy. Our results indicate that constraints may not elicit equal effects on both the grasping and transport components, and a more holistic approach to human object manipulation may provide insights that might not be apparent otherwise. The challenge now is to examine how specific constraints mediate motor behavior, and to investigate how these constraints interact with one another during object manipulation tasks.

We examine behavior from a variety of perspectives, examining both the initial hand postures that individuals use to grasp objects, as well as the manner in which the task is performed (e.g., kinematics). Additionally, we examine how the postural system contributes, compensates, and stabilizes the motor system so that successful motor control can occur.

Outcomes: 

The main expected outcome of the M.A.M.A. project is to gain a more complete understanding of human behavior during object manipulation tasks in a variety of contexts. By examining object manipulation in a number of contexts (e.g., unimanual, unimanual sequential, bimanual synchronous, bimanual sequential, joint action) we can understand the general mechanisms by which humans plan and control their movements.