Clinical Movement Control and real-life Behavior Analysis for Assistive Systems
This research area addresses the theoretical and experimental understanding of motor and balance dysfunction and the effect of disorders on patients in their daily activities. We develop a wide range of multi-modal assistive tools to support people with neurological movement disorders and psychological disorders. We address the preclinical and clinical phases of various neurological disorders, including Cerebellar Ataxia, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease, and Apraxia. Furthermore, multi-modal systems are used to improve therapeutic interventions for mentally ill subjects, e.g., obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Neural and Computational Principles of Action and Social Processing
We investigate the mechanisms of the perception of body movements, and their relationship with motor execution and social signals. Our work combines psychophysical experiments and the development of physiologically-inspired neural models in close collaboration with electrophysiologists inside and outside of Tübingen. In addition, exploiting advanced methods from computer animation and Virtual Reality (VR), we investigate the perception of body movements (facial and body expressions) in social communication, and its deficits in psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorders. A particular new focus is the study of intentional signals that are conveyed by bodily and facial expressions. For this purpose, we developed highly controlled stimulus sets, exploiting high-end methods from computer graphics. In addition, we develop physiologically-inspired neural models for neural circuits involved in the processing of bodies, actions, and the extraction of intent and social information from visual stimuli.
Biomedical and Biologically Motivated Technical Applications
Currently, facial and body movements are better controlled and categorized by neural systems than any existing technical framework. Our lab studies the computational principles underlying the control and categorization of body movements in biological systems and transfers them to technical applications, e.g., in computer graphics, humanoid robotics, or biomedical engineering and rehabilitation, where modeling human movements is becoming increasingly important for technical success.
Neurophysiology and Brain Stimulation
Brain stimulation techniques have emerged as valuable tools for investigating brain function and treating various disorders such as Parkinson's Disease, Epilepsy, and Depression. These techniques can be broadly categorized into Invasive Brain Stimulation (IBS) and Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS). While IBS methods like Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and Intracortical Microstimulation (ICMS) require surgical intervention, Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation techniques, particularly Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), have become widely used for the investigation and modulation of human brain functions.
The research leading to these results has received funding from HFSP RGP0036/2016; BMBF FKZ 01GQ1704, KONSENS-NHE BW Stiftung NEU007/1; DFG GZ: KA 1258/15-1; ERC 2019-SyG-RELEVANCE-856495; SSTeP-KiZ BMG: ZMWI1-2520DAT700.