There is still no robotic device that can match the ease and grace with which the brain produces skilled movements. The complexities of our muscular-skeletal system, the compliance and variability in our muscles and the unpredictable ever-changing environment make the control of movements one of the hardest computational problems that the brain faces. What are the principles that underlie production of coordinated movements? How are skilled movements learned? Which brain areas are involved? How does the brain compensate after damage to these areas?
In the motor control group, we are using robotic devices to investigate human motor behavior. By simulating novel objects or dynamic environments we can study how the brain recalibrates well-learned motor skills or acquires new ones. We develop computational models to understand the underlying control and learning processes. These insights are used to design fMRI studies to investigate how these processes map onto the brain. In the process, we have developed a number of novel techniques of how to study motor control in the MRI environment, and how to analyze MRI data of the human cerebellum. Finally, we study patients with stroke or neurological disease to further determine how the brain manages to control the body. After all – that is what the brain “does”.