Studying action is not only relevant for people doing sports or interested in muscle activity. Reaching to a cup in front of you, touching the screen of your smartphone/tablet, moving your eye towards the location of the sound etc. All of these daily behaviours consist of action. In other words, we are connected to the world through action.
 The aim of Hagura Group is to study human mind by investigating how humans learn and control the body. We want to know how our cognitive abilities, such as perception and decision-making, are rooted and connected to the neural mechanism of action control.

Below are the research themes we are currently up to.

1. Motor learning and the recall of motor memory

When you hear the words ‘learning’ and ‘memory’, perhaps you will imagine a situation of an exam; you will study to remember the content of the textbook and you will be asked to successfully recall it during the exam. Basically, that is same for motor learning. Practicing a new motor skill in sports is to create a motor memory in the brain. Good performance at a actual match depends on how you can accurately recall the memory.
 To understand the neuronal mechanism of motor memory formation and recall, we focus on the situations where the motor performance is deteriorated, either due to the disturbed learning or the disrupted recall. These studies may contribute to developing effective practice protocols for sports and rehabilitation programs.

2. Cognition, Decision-making and motor control

Imagine isolating your brain from the body and putting it in to a test-tube. Will you be still able to perceive the surrounding environment as before, even without th body? Many of our seemingly non-motor cognitive abilities are influenced by the way the brain optimises the control of our body. We investigate how our cognitive abilies, i.e. perception (visual, tactile, time perception) and decision making, are restricted by how the brain controls the body in the environment, together with the neural mechanism of the interaction. These studies may contribute to designing optimal environment for humans to minimise cognitive and physical effort.

3. Perception of human body

Our brain can figure out which part of the body was touched, referring to the input from the skin-receptors. Similarly, the brain can also figure out where your hand is moving by referring to the information from the muscle spindles/joint receptors. Then how can the brain know the shape and the size of our own body? Why are we able to perceive the body shape without having any information that tell us so?
 We are interested in how this memory of our own body is constructed and updated. This line of research may contribute to flexibly adjust the perceived shape and size of one's own body, such as when remotely controlling robots.

Research Equipments

Manipulandum setup using Phantom for motor learning studies(Designed by Hirashima@CiNet)

Copyright © Nobuhiro Hagura