Welcome to the Body, Eyes and Movement (BEAM) Lab.
The BEAM lab is jointly run by Drs Ellen Poliakoff and Emma Gowen, based in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. We research how our brains use sensory information such as vision and touch to create action and interact with the world around us.
In one line of research we are interested in the brain processes underlying our ability to imitate and understand the actions of other people. We are investigating how imitation differs in conditions such as autism and Parkinson’s and whether imitating or imagining yourself perform an action can improve movement in these conditions. In another line of work, we are researching how coordination difficulties (e.g. poor eye-hand coordination, unstable balance) impact on the lives of autistic adults and whether these differences in coordination can be used in diagnosis. We also investigate how people attend to the body and respond to artificial hands. We use a variety of research techniques including reaction times, eye and motion tracking, psychophysics, EEG, focus groups and interviews.
Emma and Ellen are passionate advocates of participatory research, where we work together with different communities from outside the University. For example, many of our research projects are co-partnered with autistic individuals or those with Parkinson’s and we run expert by experience groups to gain advice from these communities. Please see Autism@Manchester for details around some of these initiatives. or contact Ellen to join the BEAM Parkinson’s list to hear about opportunities to get involved.