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Psychophysiological Markers of Performance and Learning during Simulated Marksmanship in Immersive Virtual Reality
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2021) 33 (7): 1253–1270.
Published: 01 June 2021
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The fusion of immersive virtual reality, kinematic movement tracking, and EEG offers a powerful test bed for naturalistic neuroscience research. Here, we combined these elements to investigate the neuro-behavioral mechanisms underlying precision visual–motor control as 20 participants completed a three-visit, visual–motor, coincidence-anticipation task, modeled after Olympic Trap Shooting and performed in immersive and interactive virtual reality. Analyses of the kinematic metrics demonstrated learning of more efficient movements with significantly faster hand RTs, earlier trigger response times, and higher spatial precision, leading to an average of 13% improvement in shot scores across the visits. As revealed through spectral and time-locked analyses of the EEG beta band (13–30 Hz), power measured prior to target launch and visual-evoked potential amplitudes measured immediately after the target launch correlated with subsequent reactive kinematic performance in the shooting task. Moreover, both launch-locked and shot/feedback-locked visual-evoked potentials became earlier and more negative with practice, pointing to neural mechanisms that may contribute to the development of visual–motor proficiency. Collectively, these findings illustrate EEG and kinematic biomarkers of precision motor control and changes in the neurophysiological substrates that may underlie motor learning.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2011) 23 (9): 2620–2628.
Published: 01 September 2011
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Humans are constantly confronted with environmental stimuli that conflict with task goals and can interfere with successful behavior. Prevailing theories propose the existence of cognitive control mechanisms that can suppress the processing of conflicting input and enhance that of the relevant input. However, the temporal cascade of brain processes invoked in response to conflicting stimuli remains poorly understood. By examining evoked electrical brain responses in a novel, hemifield-specific, visual-flanker task, we demonstrate that task-irrelevant conflicting stimulus input is quickly detected in higher level executive regions while simultaneously inducing rapid, recurrent modulation of sensory processing in the visual cortex. Importantly, however, both of these effects are larger for individuals with greater incongruency-related RT slowing. The combination of neural activation patterns and behavioral interference effects suggest that this initial sensory modulation induced by conflicting stimulus inputs reflects performance-degrading attentional distraction because of their incompatibility rather than any rapid task-enhancing cognitive control mechanisms. The present findings thus provide neural evidence for a model in which attentional distraction is the key initial trigger for the temporal cascade of processes by which the human brain responds to conflicting stimulus input in the environment.
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (2000) 12 (Supplement 1): 47–64.
Published: 01 March 2000
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Williams Syndrome (WMS) is a genetically based disorder characterized by pronounced variability in performance across different domains of cognitive functioning. This study examined brain activity linked to face-processing abilities, which are typically spared in individuals with WMS. Subjects watched photographic pairs of upright or inverted faces and indicated if the second face matched or did not match the first face. Results from a previous study with normal adults showed dramatic differences in the timing and distribution of ERP effects linked to recognition of upright and inverted faces. In normal adults, upright faces elicited ERP differences to matched vs. mismatched faces at approximately 320 msec (N320) after the onset of the second stimulus. This “N320” effect was largest over anterior regions of the right hemisphere. In contrast, the mismatch/match effect for inverted faces consisted of a large positive component between 400 and 1000 msec (P500) that was largest over parietal regions and was symmetrical. In contrast to normal adults, WMS subjects showed an N320-mismatch effect for both upright and inverted faces. Additionally, the WMS subjects did not display the N320 right-hemisphere asymmetry observed in the normal adults. WMS subjects also displayed an abnormally small negativity at 100 msec (N100) and an abnormally large negativity at 200 msec (N200) to both upright and inverted faces. This ERP pattern was observed in all subjects with WMS but was not observed in the normal controls. These results may be linked to increased attention to faces in subjects with WMS and might be specific to the disorder. These results were consistent with our ERP studies of language processing in WMS, which suggested abnormal cerebral specialization for spared cognitive functions in individuals with WMS.