To learn about building blocks of motor performance in our memory and underlying brain structures, the Neurocognition and Action - Biomechanics Research Group (NCA) has established different research lines. The main focus of our research is the neurocognitive architecture of human motor action and its adaptability under various conditions. For this purpose, we use state-of-the-art research methods to investigate the cognitive-perceptual organization and kinematic parameters of human motor functions.
On the one hand, understanding the neurocognitive architecture of actions based on empirical research is an important step for applied fields such as mental coaching of athletes in high-performance sports or rehabilitation. On the other hand, it is a fundamental aspect of the growing field of cognitive robotics, particularly in relation to its central goal of elevating the still rigid action repertoire of robots to a level that allows robots to select and adjust their actions flexibly according to the varying demands of real-world scenarios.
The Cognition and Action Laboratories (Coala) are a cluster of seven well-equipped labs for conducting experimental studies on kinematic, cognitive and perceptual processes in human motor action.
Here, we investigate the influence of observers' movement expertise (based on the quality of the mental representation structures in long-term memory) on visual perception during the observation and/or interaction with objects and ongoing events in the environment. The influence of observers? motion expertise on perceptual processes has not been investigated to a sufficient degree. The question is: how are the building blocks of cognitive representation, action-based intelligence and intelligent interaction established and then used by the human motor system and what role does perception play in this process?
The focus in this field of research is on the investigation of motor representations in different parts of memory. How do manual action and complex movements correlate with the quality of their mental representation structures in long- term memory? Which parameters play a decisive role for motor learning processes? How are motor representations structured and stored in working memory? What are the motor primitives and cognitive building blocks in the architecture of humans and robots? The results of this research are of interest for different fields of robotics and mental coaching/rehabilitation in humans. Here we are creating new ways of mental simulation/training as elements of a neurotechnology.
This research area focuses on the relationship between biomechanical parameters of movements and the according representation structures in long-term memory. Studies are conducted in a state-of-the-art biomechanics lab equipped with a Vicon motion capture system with 12 MX-F20 and 6 T-10 High Speed cameras. Force plates embedded into the floor allow the combination of dynamic and kinematic measurements.
Current studies investigate principals of motor control (end-state comfort/motor hysteresis) underlying basic movement planning and/or movement anticipation in everyday life tasks. A particular area of interest is the study of movement biomechanics and representation of walking under different load conditions. With the help of Virtual and Augmented- Reality-set-ups, we are creating an experimental and ecological valid research environment to find out basic principles of human motor control and to link this research with technical facilities.
One research focus is on the brain bases of higher cognitive functions, for example perception, memory, action control and possible interactions among them. Neurophysiological correlates of those cognitive processes are recorded in the newly established EEG lab equipped with a 64 channel EEG system amplifier. These data are important for the understanding of the neural underpinnings of the representation and control (at the neurophysiological and neuropsychological level) of different movements in humans. Neurophysiological data have implication for rehabilitation and improve learning processes in sports, for example via Neuro- and Bio-Feedback. A second topic in this research area is the computational modelling of neurocognitive processes (e.g. via Echo-State; HSOM) in humans in order to implement experimental findings at technical platforms (robots). Here, we are going to simulate human movements in robots to understand the architecture of human motor control.
The Transfer / ProMent Center offers real life orientated research, insights and methods from the research field which are applied in the context of real world sport situations. The ProMent Center is specialized in mental training in sports. It offers ideal circumstances due to its close link to the university. Besides the performance diagnostics and optimization in top-level sport, tools for the identification and intervention in case of sport addiction and anxiety are developed. Furthermore, it offers education in mental training for trainers.
A cognitive and mobile assistance system to provide individualized audiovisual action support in the modern working world
Adaptive and Mobile Action Assistance in Daily Living Activities" - adaptive technical systems - for an intuitive interaction between humans and complex technologies
Networked living - the thinking home