Cognitive-Motor Development Research

Functions and Development of the Mirror Neuron System

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Supported by: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Child Health & Human Development, Program Grant P01 HD064653-01

 

Description:
Our research is an integral part of a Program Project Grant funded by the National Institutes of Health to support integrated, multi-project research involving the University of Houston, the University of Chicago, the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Parma, Italy, and the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. Our project is developing innovative computational models, tools and experimental protocols to study infants and toddlers during social interaction tasks to investigate the neural basis of imitation, the ability to deploy actions strategically in service of goals and the ability to apprehend the goals of social partners (action understanding) in order to produce appropriate social responses. 

The project aims to observe the electrical activity from the brain in 6-24 months old typically developing infants when performing basic motor activities like observing his/her surroundings, reaching and grasping an object from the tester as well as offering the object back, exploring the object, and imitating the tester using an electroencephalograph(EEG) cap, a non-invasive recording device placed on the infant’s head to collect brain activity data, inertial motion sensors to collect motion data, and a video recording to help us find when the infants engaged in the activities mentioned above. 
Findings from this research will inform cognitive-motor development and learning and the development of innovative intervention approaches to the study and treatment of autism and other neurological developmental disorders.

 

Team Members:
  • Zachery Hernandez, graduate research assistant in Electrical Engineering
  • Jesus Gabriel Cruz-Garza, graduate research assistant in Electrical Engineering
  • Teresa Tse, undergraduate research assistant majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematical Biology.
  • Eunice Caducoy, undergraduate research assistant majoring in Biochemistry
  • Berdakh Abbibulaev, postdoctoral research fellow
  • Alba Juliana Arenas Castellanos, MD

 

Collaborators:

 


Representative Publications

  • Cruz-Garza JG, Hernandez ZR, Tse T, Caducoy E, Abibullaev B, Contreras-Vidal JL. A novel experimental and analytical approach to the multimodal neural decoding of intent during social interaction in freely-behaving human infants. Journal of Visualized Experiments. In Press.
  • Hernandez ZR, Cruz-Garza JG, Tse T, Contreras-Vidal JL. Decoding of intentional actions from scalp electroencephalography (EEG) in freely-behaving infants. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2014;2014:2115-8. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2014.6944034.
Conference Presentations
  • Hernandez ZR, Cruz-Garza JG, Tse T, Caducoy E, Abibullaev B, and Contreras-Vidal JL. ”Supervised Classification of Intended Behaviors Using Electroencephalography (EEG) from Freely-Behaving Infants: Early findings”. Poster session presented at the 12th Annual Conference of the Gulf Coast Consortium for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience; 2015 Feb 6-7; Houston, TX.
  • Hernandez ZR, Tse T, Cruz-Garza JG, and Contreras-Vidal JL. ”Decoding of Behavioral Actions from Scalp Electroencephalography (EEG) in Freely Behaving Infants”. Poster session presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience; 2014 Nov 15-19; Washington, DC.
  • Hernandez ZR, Tse T, Cruz-Garza JG, and Contreras-Vidal JL. ”Decoding of Intentional Actions from Scalp Electroencephalography (EEG) in Freely Behaving Infants”. Poster session presented at the 4th Annual Symposium of the Gulf Coast Cluster for Neuroengineering; 2014 Oct 27; Hoston, TX.
  • Hernandez ZR, Cruz-Garza JG, Tse T, Contreras-Vidal JL. ”Decoding of intentional actions from scalp electroencephalography (EEG) in freely-behaving infants”. Paper presented and published at the 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society: 2115-2118, 2014 Aug 26-30; Chicago, IL. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2014.6944034.
  • Hernandez ZR, Tse T, Cruz-Garza JG, and Contreras-Vidal JL. ”Decoding of Behavioral Actions from Scalp Electroencephalography (EEG) in Freely Behaving Infants”. Poster session presented at the 41st Neural Interfaces Conference; 2014 Jun 23-25; Dallas, TX.

 

Awards
  • One of 11 students nominated for the Best Scholarly Publication by a Graduate Student Award. Announced at the University of Houston during Graduate Research and Scholarship Projects (GRaSP) Day on October 31, 2014.
  • Engineering and Medicine in Biology Conference Student Travel Award. Announced at the 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society in Chicago, IL on August 26, 2014.

 


If you would like to participate, please contact twtse@uh.edu