About this Research Topic
Movements play a crucial role in the neural representation of the spatial and temporal parameters of external physical objects. The coupling of movements and perception, an important part of cognitive functions and critical to the success of interactions with the environment, also requires a representation of external physical laws.
Movements are often temporally coupled to tasks within sub-second to supra-second range, depending on the nature of the task. For example, catching a ball in flight requires tighter temporal coupling compared to reaching for a cup of water. However, recent research data suggest that even tasks that do not require tight temporal coupling, such as reaching movements or postural control, depend upon a representation of time in the neural circuitry. Furthermore, this time-space representation needs to be updated when adapting to changes in parameters of the body and the environment using sensorimotor feedback of our own movements as well as task errors, rewards or costs.
It is our goal to understand how cognitive functions of the brain are dependent on the plasticity of neural circuits. We propose that neural circuitry is at least partially dependent (on an evolutionary time-period) upon the tasks and the movements that are performed. That is, the neural representation is due to the inherent spatial and temporal requirements of movements. Some support for these ideas have been found in a range of studies using different conceptual and computational approaches such as the temporal regulation of motor memory formation, optimal feedback control, feedback modulation, motor synergies, maintenance of stability, and object manipulation. However, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of the representation of time-dimension in the motor system and the effect that this has on cognitive functions. This will require researchers, with interest in biomechanics, kinesiology, neural prosthetics, psychology and neuroplasticity, to come together on a common platform. We invite researchers with diverse backgrounds and research interests to contribute their work to this Research Topic that will shed light on sensorimotor interactions underlying motor interactions with external physical objects.
Keywords: Motor variability, muscle synergies, movement timing, object manipulation, action-reaction
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