Human Cognition & Sensorimotor Core

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The BrainsCAN Human Cognition and Sensorimotor Core (HCS Core) provides state-of-the-art equipment and resources for measuring cognitive abilities, emotional and social behaviour, psychophysics and sensorimotor performance in neurotypical and neurologically-impaired individuals throughout the lifespan. In addition to equipment, HCS Core provides access to technicians and other personnel with expertise in computer programming, data analysis, design and fabrication of specialized equipment, recruitment of participants, including from special populations, and the development of databases.

The HCS Core supports, through technical staff salaries and operational costs, existing infrastructure for a diverse range of human cognitive neuroscience experimentation. Using the investment from BrainsCAN, the HCS Core supports, maintains and enhances elite research at Western without requiring researchers to pay user fees providing free access to the following tools and services:

Testing Rooms

A suite of flexible testing rooms that can be booked by researchers for their specific projects on a web-based calendar.

  • Each testing room is equipped with a computer setup that allows researchers to present visual and/or auditory displays and to record responses (e.g., reaction times and accuracy of manual responses, voice onset time for spoken responses).
  • These computers can be interfaced with equipment for recording eye movements and EEG-based event-related potentials, autonomic responses (e.g., galvanic skin response, heart rate and other cardiac measures that can indicate responses to stress, emotional states and cognitive load), and EMG to capture subtle motor responses, such as contractions of the face muscles involved in smiling.
  • Some of the testing rooms are equipped for the administration of pharmacological agents to assess the role of specific neurotransmitters on cognitive performance in both normal volunteers and individuals with Parkinson’s disease or other degenerative disorders.

Motion-tracking Laboratories

The HCS Core also provides access to state-of-the-art motion-tracking laboratories for measuring both the kinematics of skilled manual movements and the forces deployed when grasping and manipulating objects.

  • Each laboratory is equipped with motion capture systems for measuring limb and hand movements, eye movement monitors and transducers for measuring force and torque.
  • These facilities are used to measure visuomotor performance in both neurotypical volunteers and in individuals with discrete damage to sensorimotor pathways in the brain.
  • In addition to the kinematic and kinetic recording systems, the laboratories are designed to accommodate experiments involving transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and EEG-based evoked potential recording.

Robotics

There are several robotic setups, including robotic arms, which are designed to investigate human motor behavior. By simulating novel objects or dynamic environments, investigators can study how the brain recalibrates well-learned motor skills or acquires new ones.

Additional Tools

The HCS Core provides access to a gait laboratory, a driving simulator, a VR laboratory, equipment for measuring speech and auditory processing, a 6-bedroom sleep laboratory, a human microneurography laboratory, infant observation rooms and a range of other specialized facilities for measuring human cognition and sensorimotor performance.

All research being conducted through the HCS Core must be aligned with BrainsCAN priorities. 


Core Contact Information:

Mel Goodale
Director, Human Cognition and Sensorimotor Core
BrainsCAN, Western University
mgoodale@uwo.ca