In daily life we easily move around in the world, avoiding certain objects while aiming for others. Our brain has to build a spatial representation of our surroundings from the basic perceptual input from our perceptual senses like vision, touch and audition. The scientific goal of the proposal is to disentangle the exact course of the development of this external reference frame, and the influence of vision, audition and haptics thereupon, by using a multidisciplinary approach. Children (prospective approach) and sensory deprived individuals (retrospective approach) will be studied by the use of several behavioural measurement techniques as well as non-invasive brain imaging techniques (EEG).
Training objectives include learning new measurement techniques, working with sensory deprived participants and ethical issues concerning studying children and special populations. The research proposal will clearly train the applicant is these objectives and will reinforce professional maturity.
Research into the fundamentals of spatial representations is humans is utterly important for several reasons. Knowledge on how space is represented in the human brain will be of important use for the development of aids for sensory deprived individuals and devices like surgery robots and sensory implants. Moreover, the project will lead to better understanding of fundamental brain processes.
The proposed project is part of a more general fundamental research topic, the representation of the body in space. This is an area, which has recently developed much more strongly in European research environments than in the US or other countries throughout the world. Therefore, it is an area where Europe leads, and where this proposal will contribute to consolidating and extending research achievements.
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