Edward G Freedman

10 janvier 2020

University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester NY, USA

Removing behavioral constraints can change our understanding of neural mechanisms : from saccadic eye movement control to cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease

invité par Laurent Goffart

Abstract : Often when experiments involve alert participants (either human or non-human) there is concern that movement artifacts will contaminate data. For instance, in the early days of single unit recording from the brainstem of non-human primates the head of the monkey was prevented from moving. Based on this work clear hypotheses about the control of saccadic eye movements were developed and tested. Similarly, when behavioral tasks with human participants involve recording high density EEG, the default is often to perform these tasks with head movements reduced and in drastically reduced environments (sound-attenuating booths that are electrically shielded). From the beginning of my scientific career I have worked to remove these behavioral constraints. First by allowing monkeys to freely move their heads during brainstem recordings, and more recently using our Mobile Brain Body Imaging (MoBI) system to record neural activity from the scalp as people walk through virtual environments and perform tests of cognitive function. While the questions addressed are different in both cases pushing the technological boundaries to permit more ecologically natural behaviors has led to important changes in the way we understand neural mechanisms. In the first case we had to re-think eye movement control mechanisms because existing models could not account for observed behavior when the head moved. In the latter example, walking increases the cognitive load experienced by participants and may reveal previously masked risks of cognitive decline. I will discuss some of the older results to highlight the general theme and also present some early findings using our MoBI system.

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