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Movement Goals
"Attentional Selection of Movement Goals: Mechanisms and Capacity Limitations"
Area(s): A - Neuro-biological and Neuro-cognitive Foundations,B - Multisensory Perception,D - Action Planning and Control/Joint Action

Selection of movement goals in humans

Project Duration: ............ 11/2006 through 12/2007

Visual attention and executive control is investigated in reaching, grasping and in saccade tasks, using behavioural and electrophysiological (EPR) measures. Duration: 11.2006-12.2007

Goal-directed actions, of human actors as well as of robots, presume processes that continuously select the action goals and provide all the various parameters which are relevant for the intended movement. The main goal of this project is to analyse, for a variety of increasingly complex sensorimotor tasks, the action-specific, selective spatial processing that occurs during the initial planning of the action, i.e., long before the onset of the open movement.

For this purpose, the spatial and temporal properties of attention deployment are determined in a perceptual discrimination paradigm during the preparation of goal-directed actions such as sequential reaching and eye movements, grasping, obstacle avoidance, and bimanual hand movements. Moreover, dual-task situations are studied which involve the parallel execution of two motor tasks (e.g., left-hand tapping and right-hand single manual response). Finally, in a parallel series of experiments, tactile attention when grasping and touching objects has also been studied.

The innovative potential of our investigations lays mainly in the fact that the developed approach allows to specify and characterize the covert visual processing that occurs already in the planning phase of complex movements, and to reveal the strategies by which human actors cope with complex dual-task situations.

A striking, bottom-line conclusion of these the studies performed so far is that during movement planning, sensory processing is strictly limited to the action-relevant parts of the scene, and the attentional weights are perfectly reflecting the requirements of the planned motor task. These results further emphasize and qualify the importance of attentional mechanism also for the artificial cognitive systems. The studies have already lead to a number of international publications.

Selection of movement goals in humans

Human participant performing a bimanual “grasp” to a cross-like object.

Selection of movement goals in humans

Where does the subject attend during movement preparation?

PI: Institute Dep. Org.
Project Leader:
Heiner Deubel General and Experimental Psychology Psy LMU
Project Partners:
Werner Wolf Biomedical Signal Processing and Sensorimotor Lab EIT UBM
Patrick van der Smagt Robotics and Mechatronics DLR

Date of this information: .......... 5/2012