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Cognitive Aspects of Movement

While most actions are expressed in movement, they often involve higher-level processes such as sensory integration, motor planning, or decision making. In collaboration with Sascha Schroeder, we ran a study on lexical decisions in children and adults (Schroeder & Verrel, 2014). Spatiotemporal analysis of response movements allowed for a fine-grained analysis of developmental differences and revealed age-specific dissociations between preparation and movement phases.

Together with Markus Werkle-Bergner, we combined EEG and motion capture to investigate the influence of postural stability on the use of visual information. The role of sensory feedback was also investigated in the haptic modality, where we were able to demonstrate, for the first time in healthy adults, that self-touch information is automatically integrated with motor control (Verrel, Hagura, Lindenberger, & Haggard, 2013).

In collaboration with Simone Kühn, we are currently using experimental paradigms inducing automatic preparation of motor actions to investigate mental representations of the body and of body movements. In a recent fMRI study, we showed how implicit action preparation tendencies are modulated by task-irrelevant movement constraints (Kühn, Werner, Lindenberger, & Verrel, 2014).

Moreover, we started investigating movement preparation and planning in paradigms involving balance requirements, anticipation of end postures in manual movements, or adaptation to obstacles during locomotion. In some of these studies, the participants are infants or children, addressing the early development of anticipatory behavior.

Key References

Kühn, S., Werner, A., Lindenberger, U., & Verrel, J. (2014). Acute immobilisation facilitates premotor preparatory activity for the non-restrained hand when facing grasp affordances. NeuroImage, 92, 69–73. doi: 10.1016/ j.neuroimage.2014.02.003

Schroeder, S., & Verrel, J. (2014). Cognitive processing and motor execution in the lexical decision task: A developmental study. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21, 496–504. doi: 10.3758/ s13423-013-0509-x

Verrel, J., Hagura, N., Lindenberger, U., & Haggard, P. (2013). Effect of haptic feedback from self-touch on limb movement coordination. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 39, 1775–1785. doi: 10.1037/ a0032735

Verrel, J., Lisofsky, N., Kühn, S., & Lindenberger, U. (2016). Normal aging increases postural preparation errors: Evidence from a two-choice response task with balance constraints. Gait & Posture, 44, 143–148. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.12.002

Verrel, J., Almagor, E., Schumann, F., Lindenberger, U., & Kühn, S. (2015). Changes in neural resting state activity in primary and higher-order motor areas induced by a short sensorimotor intervention based on the Feldenkrais method. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9: 232. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00232