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We study how people move in connection to how they think. 

We use the signals from the Peripheral Nervous Systems to help the Central Nervous System heal itself.

When we move around, some of our motions follow a purpose. They are deliberate and intended to accomplish some goals. Others, a large portion of our movements, occur below our conscious awareness. These motions are highly automatic and fast. Over the years, we have developed ways to identify these classes of movements and have figured out ways to connect them with their corresponding classes of mental processes.

All motions, intended and automatic alike, are inherently variable. Regardless of their functionality, no two movements are repeated in exactly the same way. There are random fluctuations across repetitions of the same motion that constitute a form of re-afferent sensory input, flowing from the peripheral to the central nervous system. We can harness these micro-motions in connection to cognitive mental processes involved in decision making, planning and other tasks. These patterns of variability have a stochastic signature unique to each person. This signature is non-stationary and serves to dynamically track both our rational intentions and our automatic intuitions. 

We can objectively quantify mental and bodily processes to identify the best sensory-motor capabilities of a person, as well as his/her mental predispositions. Along a broad spectrum, some people are more rational while others are more intuitive about their acts. In the controlled setting of the laboratory, their natural actions can reflect the nature of their mental processes. Their intentional and automatic movement patterns can reveal their degree of proficiency and their predispositions to acquire new knowledge in a rational or in an intuitive manner.

We apply these notions to the general population with the purpose of using the peripheral nervous system signal to induce plastic changes in the central control of actions. In particular, we are successfully applying these principles to Autism Spectrum Disorders. We seek to use the peripheral nervous systems as a proxy to unlock the volitional control of movements to bridge random actions to ones of intention and purpose. This way, we can unravel the learning potential of these individuals and gain access to their hidden inner strengths. Through the Peripheral Nervous System, we boost the connection with the Central Nervous System: we begin to help the brain heal itself.

Our subjects include children with developmental differences from their normally developing peers, adults who have suffered brain injuries or have motor degenerative diseases, and typically developing adults of similar age groups.

The main goal of our lab is to understand sensory-motor processes in order to 
design sensory-driven therapies that help the brain heal itself.


    Posted Dec 6, 2014, 12:21 PM by Elizabeth Torres
  • Media Coverage at SFN 2014 Work from our lab in collaboration with Indiana University received press coverage from the Simons FoundationSUBTYPING AUTISM SEVERITY and IDENTIFYING POSSIBLE PARENTAL SIMILARITIES
    Posted Dec 6, 2014, 12:19 PM by Elizabeth Torres
  • SFN 2014 Sejal Mistry presented a talk at a Nanosymposium Sejal Mistry presented work on a newly proposed unifying framework to transform the Mirror Neurons System TheoryThe work was part of the lab's presentations at the Society for Neuroscience in a Nanosymposium on Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    Posted Dec 6, 2014, 12:15 PM by Elizabeth Torres
  • SFN 2014 Jill Nguyen Presented Jill Nguyen presented her preliminary results on schizophrenia patients and visual illusions at the Society for Neuroscience this November 16th 2014 in Washington DC
    Posted Dec 6, 2014, 12:11 PM by Elizabeth Torres
  • Profectum 2014 NYC Liz gave a talk at the Profectum Foundation in NYC on November 16th
    Posted Dec 6, 2014, 12:09 PM by Elizabeth Torres
  • New paper from the Lab published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience We discovered new biometrics of Parkinson's disease that can subtype its severity based on sensory-motor features in relation to the motor output variability of a subject without proprioception. The work was in collaboration with Howard Poizner of UCSD and Jonathan Cole of Poole Hospital in the UK
    Posted Oct 23, 2014, 8:25 AM by Elizabeth Torres
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