The main objectives of this module are:
After completion of the course, students are able to
- apply the basic anatomy and physiology of visual, vestibular and somatosensory systems to understand their role in human motor control
- study how sensory information is processed and integrated to support feed-forward and feedback motor control
- understand neural population codes and techniques of measuring and decoding brain activity
- recognize perception and executive disorders and judge the consequences of these disorders on movement
- measure eye movements and balance control as research tools in clinical neuroscience
Our sensory systems form internal representations of our body and the external world. Each sensory modality is mediated by a distinct neural system. One of the principal functions of these internal representations is to guide movement. Purposeful action is possible only because the motor systems in the brain that control movement have access to the ongoing stream of sensory information. The integrative action of the nervous system—the decision to execute one movement and not another— depends therefore on the interaction between the motor and sensory systems. To gain insight in this integration we discuss the neural control of posture, eye, head, and arm movements in health and disease. We will see that a strict separation between the various levels of information processing is impossible. Brain damage especially affects the processing of information and as a consequence, actions that used to be performed automatically can only be performed with much attention and mental energy. Research paradigms that are promising for future research, stemming from fundamental and clinical neuroscience, will be discussed.