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New research may prove brain prepares multiple actions before acting

Dr Jason Gallavan (back left) and Dr Randy Flanagan in the Centre for Neuroscience Studies discussing their research

The brain prepares multiple available movements before deciding between them, according to findings from Queen’s researchers Jason Gallivan and Randy Flanagan.

The research helps explain how the brain initially represents and decides between competing action options.

“Although there is an increasing appreciation among neuroscientists and psychologists of how processes involved in movement planning and control shape decisions, what has been missing is convincing behavioural evidence that can ground interpretations of neurophysiological data,” says Dr. Gallivan (Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Department of Psychology and Centre for Neuroscience Studies).

Reaching movements are supported by reflex responses that compensate for errors that can arise during movement execution. For example, if, when reaching towards a target, we see that our hand is off course, a fast “visuomotor” reflex will generate motor commands that correct for the error.

Continue reading in the Queen’s Gazette.