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While it has been said that the biological purpose of the brain is to generate behaviour, you have to remember that almost half of the cerebral cortex is devoted to vision-related functions. It follows then that the neural processes that transform visual information into the representations that allow us to perceive the world and interact within it, are central to brain function. Recent research has advanced the idea that separate visual pathways in the brain have evolved to process visual information for use in recognizing objects and guiding our actions.

What is often overlooked is that these two pathways do not act in isolation. Even though there is a clear division of labour between these perception and action systems, the two systems play a complementary role in the production of meaningful behaviour. There are many connections that allow for "cross talk" and interaction between the two pathways. Dr. Marotta feels that the next big question for this field of research is to determine how interactions between the perception and action streams operate? The Perception and Action Lab's multi-disciplinary approach gives its members a unique spring-board to pursue this question.

While great strides have been made in the study of the human visual system, we still have a long way to go in our understanding of object recognition and visuomotor control. The specification of a detailed model of the visual control of human grasping will not only provide us with critical insights into the functional architecture of this important human skill, but will also assist in the development of more efficient control systems for robotics, tele-operations, and tele-assistance. This is particularly true when the relevant features of a goal object or task have to be specified without assistance from the operator (i.e. devices for the blind or physically impaired). Ultimately, this research will lead to the development of neuro-prosthetic devices capable of restoring vision or mobility.

visuomotor control hemispatial neglect visual perception
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