Research objectives and content i
Aim of this project is to examine how the brain keeps up to date the self-to-environment spatial relations during whole-body displacements. Therefore the brain activity preceding behavioral responses for indicating changes in either location or orientation will be recorded.
Specific contributions will be revealed, respectively, by using blindfolds, by including patients with focal brain lesions impairing topographic memory and by performing real and imagined self-motion experiments. During a guided locomotion without vision subjects will direct their attention either toward the surrounding scene or their trajectory. Once reached the new vantage point, brain activity concomitant to the mental updating of self-to-environment spatial relations will be recorded using a 64 channel EEG as well as behavioral parameters (reaction times and en-ors). Investigation of the effect of attentional resources allocation on the updating of the location and orientation of a previously viewed object in space will be performed.
MEG, EEG, as well as performance measurements will also be acquired during the internal simulation of a self-to-environment reorientation. Given an initial virtual scene, subjects will determine if a test scene corresponds or not to a to-be-imagined either environment- or subject-relative perspective change. Accordingly, the role of reference frames and visuo-motor imagery when updating spatial information in the temporary absence of vision will be quantified.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The TMR fellowship will allow me to complete my training in cognitive neuroscience by acquinng skills in cognitive electrophysiology, especially using MEG equipment, and then possibly transfering this knowledge to institutions such as the Hospital Pitie-Salpetriere in Paris, where a helmet-shaped 143-channel MEG system identical to the one used in the host institution is currently being installed. Thereby, I expect it will open new opportunities of employment in my native country as well as in other countries of the EEC. The host institution will also benefit from this project by extending its field of clinical investigation to the study of spatial memory disorders using the experimental paradigms I have developed during my doctoral work, and actually validating new diagnosis and rehabilitation tools.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
The present project is relevant to the design of navigation-aid and Geographic information Systems (GIS) may it be for a car driver or a blind person locomoting in an unknown environment. In emergency case, we may be willing to privilege speed over accuracy, thereby allocating more attention on the path we perform rather than updating the whole scene that surrounds us. Therefore the present study of the constraints imposed by the processing modes and cognitive brain activity on spatial updating is necessary.