The overarching theme of the work carried out in the lab concerns how we control our movements. More specifically our main focus is on understanding how information we pick up through our senses influences how we control our movements. We are particularly interested in understanding how we can use technology to present different forms of sensory information so that it can be used to improve movement in a wider variety of contexts - such as learning a new skill such as putting a ball in golf or improving balance in people with Parkinson's or older adults.
This is a 5 year project funded by the European Research Council, and is the catalyst behind much of the work featured in the lab. The project has two main aims. The first is to further our understanding of how the information we pick up through our senses influences the way we time our movements and the second is to see if we can use different types of technology to create dynamic patterns of sensory information (visual and auditory) to help people improve how they control their movements in a sporting (e.g. putting a ball in golf) or health related context (e.g. walking in people with Parkinson's). More information about the project can be found here.
Our approach to studying decision making in sport breaks from convention. To try and study the dynamics of decision-making, namely how perceptual based information influences our decisions about when and how to act, we are using immersive, interactive virtual reality (see Immersive Interactive VR). This technology gives us the power to simulate real-life scenarios that are fully immersive (everywhere the player looks they see the virtual environment) and interactive (when the player acts they see the immediate result of their actions in the virtual environment displayed in the headset) yet allow us to precisely control the information presented in the environment. By recording the behavioural responses of the players in real time as an event unfolds we can see how perception influences decisions about when and how to act. More information about the project can be found here.
Balance Training in Older Adults
The work on the balance training games originated from the TEMPUS_G project and trying to find novel ways of presenting patterns of sensory inforomation. Thanks to additional funding from both CAP (Changing Ageing Partnership) and CARDI we have been able to test how our new movement based games that use game controllers such as the Nintendo Wii can improve balance control in older adults. The games provide a fun and engaging way of exercising. Our specially designed system also incorporates a safety platform and railings to reduce a fear of falling when playing the games. More information about the project can be found here.
Gaming technology for People with Parkinson's
This project, funded by an Innovation Grant from Parkinson's UK, aims to see if commercially available gaming technology that uses movement as a controller can help improve mobility and mood in people with Parkinson's. The project aims to see if different Nintendo Wii games that already exist can help and if so how, and secondly aims to see if specially adapted games can be used to improve balance and mobility. We will also be looking at how this technology could be used to monitor symptoms. More information about the project can be found here.