Exploring the Brain
Sensory Illusions and Motor Learning
Our institute researches various aspects of human cognitive abilities including perception, action, and learning. For example, we study how physical skill learning can be facilitated. Even a child can imitate movements of others to some extent, but it is very challenging and time-consuming to precisely perform the imitation. We tested whether an illusion on body perception could expedite or ease the learning.
In an experimental setup, a research participant was shown a computer graphics (CG) of a hand while his or her corresponding hand was visually hidden. Then synchronous visual and tactile stimulation was given to the CG hand and the participant's hand, by computer-graphics animation and by a vibration motor, respectively. This induces so-called rubber-hand illusion, a type of body ownership illusion, in which the participant feels as if the CG hand is a part of his or her own body. We tested how this illusion affects physical skill learning, using the task of imitating finger movements like playing piano as precisely as possible. We found out that the participants can learn the novel finger movements more quickly and accurately under the illusion.
Measuring a Driver's Feel of Vehicle Dimensions in VR
It is difficult to know the width of the car we are in when driving since we can only see the interior of the car. The driver must be careful to avoid a collision by guessing the vehicle width using their own senses as available from the driver’s seat. We are researching the impact of the car’s interior design on the perceived vehicle width by measuring the driver’s sensory capabilities of estimating the vehicle dimensions. Measuring driver’s subjective senses is quite difficult with a real vehicle, but can be objectively and efficiently performed by the combination of virtual reality (VR) devices and psychophysical methods.
Virtual reality is extensively used to understand human's unique perceptual and cognitive characteristics in our institute.