Sensory Motor and Performance Team

Simple everyday movements, like pointing or catching a ball, take gravity into account. They require the integration of information from the eyes and inner ear, as well as nerves in the joints and muscles. Without gravity, the joints and muscles receive new inputs for a familiar movement and the inner ear no longer provides useful information about up or down. How the nervous system adapts to this new condition has been a puzzling question. Investigators Drs. Alain Berthoz, Otmar Bock and Chuck Oman are using a variety of novel technologies and tests to reveal how this adaptation takes place. Dr. Berthoz will use a simple but effective, ball-catching paradigm. Dr. Bock will have the crewmembers perform a variety of pointing, grasping and tracking tasks. Dr. Oman will use virtual reality to discover whether the balance between visual and vestibular cues is shifted toward the visual system.  This experiment is a joint project with Dr. Ian Howard, co-director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Canada's Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology (CRESTech).