PhD position

Eye-Hand coordination in discrete versus continuous actions

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The objective will be to determine whether visuomotor adaptation under continuous hand tracking transfers to the context in which hand reaching movements are initiated from a fixed position toward stationary targets.

Description

The PhD project below is part of NeuroSchool’s “PhD Scholarships for International Students” call, which will fund 3 scholarships among the nine proposed projects.
APPLICATION MUST PROCEED THROUGH OUR WEBSITE: https://neuro-marseille.org/en/Calls/phd-scholarships-for-international-students/

STATE OF THE ART : Eye and hand movements are key in many of our everyday activities. Moreover a large portion of our brain is dedicated to the control of these two effectors. As a result understanding how eye and hand actions are controlled and coordinated is important both from a theoretical and a societal perspective. In the literature an important distinction is made between discrete and continuous movements. Not only they rely on partly distinct neural substrates but they also rely on substantially different control processes. The goal of this proposal will be to investigate to what extent eye-hand coordination may differ under discrete and continuous actions. To achieve this goal we propose two lines of research. In the first line of research, we propose to investigate movements that fall in the interval between continuous and discrete actions. Our method will consist in asking participants to track a visual target that moves along a smooth path, but depending on the conditions, the target will be displayed either continuously or at fixed time intervals. By manipulating the rate at which the target is displayed we aim at bridging the gap between discrete and continuous actions. This task will be performed either with the eye, the hand (by means of a joystick), or both effectors simultaneously. Such protocol will allow characterizing the performance of each effector in isolation, and therefore assessing more effectively the effect of eye-hand coordination. In the second line of research, we plan to investigate how dependent are the adaptation of discrete and continuous actions. To achieve this goal we plan on using a visual perturbation, called visuomotor rotation, in which participants are provided biased visual feedback about their hand movements, such that the mapping between the joystick motion and the cursor motion is rotated by 90°.

OBJECTIVES : Here the objective will be to determine whether visuomotor adaptation under continuous hand tracking transfers to the context in which hand reaching movements are initiated from a fixed position toward stationary targets. Conversely we also plan to examine whether the adaptation of discrete hand movements performed in different directions transfers to continuous hand tracking. If major transfer of adaptation is observed between these two tasks, these results will challenge the view that discrete and continuous actions are governed by largely independent processes. FEASABILITY AND

METHODS : Regarding the feasibility of the project, we already have all the required equipment and our expertise with eye-hand coordination and visuomotor-adaptation has been validated by 6 recent publications, all issued from a single PhD project.

EXPECTED RESULTS : If major transfer of adaptation is observed between these two tasks, these results will challenge the view that discrete and continuous actions are governed by largely independent processes

Desired profile

The new PhD student will be involved in all aspects of the research, including experimental design, data collection and analysis. Given the nature of the project, a solid interest in behavioral and computational neurosciences will be appreciated. Experience with Matlab coding and data collection will also be valued.

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