I began research examining brain processes underlying the preparation for voluntary action during my PhD at Monash University. I moved to the University of Vienna as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 1998 where I began research with functional MRI brain imaging, examining the supplementary motor area and it's contribution to the planning and readiness for action. I returned to Melbourne as a Senior Research Fellow at the Howard Florey Institute in 2001, joining the Neuroimaging and Neuroinformatics Lab.
In January 2007 I established my lab at the University of Queensland where I am now appointed as Principal Research Fellow in the School of Psychology and the Queensland Brain Institute.
Research of my group focuses on the brain processes involved in the planning and preparation for action and in the perception and imitation of others' actions.
Whenever we plan, imagine, or observe someone else performing an action, our own motor system responsible for representing and executing the action are also involved. The higher motor areas, the supplementary motor area and premotor cortex, are thought to play an important role in planning and maintaining readiness for action prior to movement initiation. The inferior parietal cortex and premotor cortex are key parts of a "mirror neuron" system that is thought to link the visual processing of observed actions and the motor system, important for understanding and imitating others' actions.
Research in my lab focuses on the brain processes crucial for planning and representing actions prior to initiation, for imitating actions, and for perceiving and understanding the actions of others.
Attention and the readiness for action.
Activity of premotor and supplementary motor areas begins up to 2 s prior to voluntary movement. We are examining the cognitive and "intentional" processes that precede the initiation of voluntary movement, in readiness for action.
Perception and imitation of others' actions.
The human mirror system is thought to provide a mechanism for directly matching observed actions to equivalent motor representations in the motor system, linking visual and motor areas. We are examining how the observation of others' actions can influence our own motor system and our performance of movement, and how our own plans for action can influence our visual processing and perception of others' actions.