An overarching goal of our research is to clarify the neuronal control mechanisms that endow humans with their extraordinary ability to manipulate objects and use tools with their hands.
We study virtually all the steps from the signaling of the sense organs of the hand to the complex nervous mechanisms of the human brain that account for planning and control of action patterns in manual tasks. This includes analysis of the use of multimodal sensory information (tactile, visual, auditory), and of brain mechanisms that support the decision-making process for selecting action phases and their linking for generation of whole action plans, i.e., properties that are characteristic of intelligence. We measure and analyze object movements, finger motions and forces. We use microneurography and other techniques to define how sensors of the hands encode the mechanical events that the brain uses in control of object manipulation tasks. We use techniques based on gaze registration for analyzing the role of vision for this control. Finally, to explore the processes in the brain that govern the specific control functions that we define at the systems level, we use brain imaging techniques and transcranial magnetic brain stimulation. Besides contributing to basic neuroscience, our work has proven to be of significance for clinical and technological applications.