Opti Lab Research
Research in the Opti Lab addresses neurocognitive processes that underlie human learning and techniques that can be used to accelerate skill acquisition. Our research spans basic, applied and clinical sciences with a focus on the neural mechanisms of visual information processing and precision sensorimotor control. As a core lab in the Brain Stimulation Division of Duke Psychiatry our research features a number of noninvasive brain stimulation approaches, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to modulate neural functioning, as well as multiple (often simultaneous) neural recording techniques such as electroencaphlography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Specific areas of research include;
Sensorimotor Function and Expertise
A key element of research in the Opti Lab has been experimentation with sensorimotor training tools, including several developed by Nike Inc. Through research supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Army Research Office, we have conducted laboratory and field studies in unique groups of expert athletes and soldiers, leading to several papers addressing perceptual and motor expertise. Among these are studies addressing …
- Individual variability in sensorimotor function (Wang et al., 2015)
- Sensorimotor expertise in athletes (Klemish, 2017)
- Stroboscopic training (Appelbaum 2011, Appelbaum 2012)
- Sports vision training (Krasich 2016; Appelbaum 2016; Appelbaum & Erickson 2016).
- Visual training as an remediation for lower extremity injury (Gromes 2014)
- Sensorimotor learning in immersive virtual environments (Rao et al, Under Review)
Noninvasive Neuromodulation to Accelerate Learning
Brain stimulation techniques such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) offer the powerful means by which to noninvasively modulate neural function. Research in our lab is interested in the application of such neuromodulation techniques to improve cognitive faculties, emotional regulation, and motor function. Among these studies is a U01 award through the National Institute for Aging to study the combination of working memory training and TMS for improving working memory abilities that typically decline with age. This program of research brings together scientists and clinicians from the School of Engineering, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Department of Psychiatry to implement fMRI-targeted, electric field modeled, and robot-controlled TMS to improve working memory capacity in older adults. In another exciting new line of research done in conjunction with the Department of Surgery, we are currently developing a surgical training program that utilizes tDCS and eye tracking to facilitate laparoscopic skill learning in medical residents in the Duke cardiothoracic training program.
Vision is the result of numerous microprocesses that determine the scope and limits of perception and subsequent cognition. Research in the Opti Lab has addressed a number key topics relating to the processes and neural mechanisms underlying visual perception. These include
Cognitive control’ describes a type of executive function that is particularly important in situations where it is necessary to override responses that might otherwise be automatically elicited by stimuli in the external environment. In collaboration with the Woldorff Lab at Duke University, we have utilized stimulus-response conflict tasks to study the brain circuits that enable cognitive control. These studies address...
The field of neuroscience is increasing massively in scope and scale. Given this growth, there is a profound need for new approaches that synthesize across the larger literature. We have recently developed a semantic network approach that maps the relationships between terms that appear in the neuroscience literature. In our initial manuscript we have identified and described the common relationships across thousands of studies that use fMRI to explore cognitive neuroscience questions (Beam et al., 2014). This semantic approach provides a bird’s-eye view of the field of cognitive neuroscience, and we are pleased to have been awarded one of the 2013-2014 Duke Institute for Brain Sciences Research Incubator Awards!!!