Interaction between Cognition and Motor Control

The classical concept of sensorimotor control regards perception as input from the external world, action as output from the brain to the world, and cognition as the intermediary process. However, the results of a recent spate of studies have suggested that perception, cognition, and action are interrelated and continuously influence each other. Our aim is to understand brain mechanisms for integration and interaction of perception, cognition and action, and to make use of our findings for technology of communications including brain machine interfaces.

Research Topics

1. Mechanisms for switching of motor skills (internal models)

Humans can flexibly change their acquired skills depending on situations. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated mechanisms for switching of skills. We found that brain mechanisms are largely different between switching based on contextual information prior to movement initiation (predictive switch) and switching based on sensorimotor feedback (postdictive switch). These results suggest modular organization of the switching mechanisms supporting flexible change of human behaviors.

Difference in brain activity between predictive (cyan) and postdictive (magenta) switching of skills
(from Imamizu & Kawato, Journal of Neuroscience, 2008)


2. Reconstruction of movements from brain activity

Reconstruction of a natural movement trajectory of a hand or a fingertip from noninvasively recorded brain activity is a key technology for brain-machine interface. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a promissing recording technique that has temporal resolution needed for reconstruction of rapid and smooth trajectory of movements. We are now trying reconstruction of the movements from MEG signals related to sensorimotor control.

Hand movements reconstructed from brain activity (movie)
(From Toda A., Imamizu H., Kawato M., & Sato MA., NeuroImage, 2011)

3. Visualization of cognitive modules in the cerebellum

Using a computer graphic technology, we conducted meta-analysis of six different fMRI imaging experiments on cognitive functions. It became clear that basic motor skills are acquired in the more superior, anterior, and medial parts of the cerebellum whereas higher order cognitive functions, reside in the most inferior, posterior, and lateral parts.

Movie showing motor and cognitive modules in the cerebellum
(from Imamizu & Kawato, Psychological Research, 2009)

People Involved in the above Topics

– Hiroshi Imamizu
– Toshinori Yoshioka
– Masahiro Kimura
– Yu Shimizu

Last update Apr.2009