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The Electrophysiology of Human Visuomotor Integration During Memory-Guided Action Open Access


Other title
N170 ERP
delayed action
memory-guided action
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Cruikshank, Leanna C
Supervisor and department
Caplan, Jeremy (Neuroscience, Psychology)
Singhal, Anthony (Neuroscience, Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Handy, Todd (Psychology)
Cummine, Jacqueline (Rehabilitation Medicine)
Singhal, Anthony (Neuroscience, Psychology)
Chapman, Craig (Physical Education and Recreation)
Dickson, Clayton (Neuroscience, Psychology)
Caplan, Jeremy (Neuroscience, Psychology)
Centre for Neuroscience

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The visuomotor pathways of the brain are comprised of millions of neurons and complex interconnections among them exist. In order to fully understand visuomotor processes, we needto understand the mechanisms that allow neurons within these areas and between networks to coordinate with each other. The objective of the four studies presented in this thesis was to test whether specific electrophysiological signals reflect visuomotor integration and determine which aspects of behaviour are reflected in the modulation of these signals. I measured oscillatory and ERP activity during various delayed action tasks in order to determine how the brain uses both immediate visual information and visuoperceptual memory to execute goal-directed reaching. In the first study I addressed whether visuomotor regions might coordinate their function via theta oscillations. I determined that theta synchronization and mu desynchronization may represent broadly applicable rhythmic mechanisms for integration and visuomotor function in the human brain. In the second study, I investigated event-related potentials (ERPs) during the planning phase of actions. I found that the N170 ERP component, which is generally considered in the context of perception, is also sensitive to elements of action planning and connects visual perceptual and action processes. In the third study, I expanded on these results and investigated how perception for action is coded over time, by manipulating the delay period of the task. As delay period between target occlusion and movement initiation increased, modulation in the N170 amplitude reflected the accuracy of the stored memory representation. Finally, in the fourth study, I investigated how the two hemispheres of the brain contribute to visuomotor processes using the N170 as a measure. Results suggest that whereas visually initiated action is left-dominant, memory-initiated action may be right-dominant. In sum, this body of work provides further insight into the electrophysiological basis of human visuomotor function. Employment of a modifiable reaching paradigm has permitted the systematic investigation of how immediate available visual information and visuoperceptual memory informs action. I have identified two signals that can be used to assess brain activity during visuomotor behaviour in real-time.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Cruikshank, L.C, Caplan, J.B., & Singhal, A. A perception-based ERP reveals that the magnitude of delay matters for memory-guided reaching. Experimental Brain Research, doi:10.1007/s00221-014-3897-xCruikshank, L. C., Singhal, A., Hueppelsheuser, M., & Caplan, J. B. (2012). Theta oscillations reflect a putative neural mechanism for human sensorimotor integration. Journal of Neurophysiology, 107(1), 65-77. doi:10.1152/jn.00893.2010Cruikshank, L.C, Caplan, J.B., & Singhal, A. (2012). Human electrophysiological reflections of the recruitment of perceptual processing during actions that engage memory. Journal of Vision, 12(6):29, 1-13

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