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Research

A little bit about my research.

Dr. Kenyon's expertise spans the areas of sensory-motor adaptation, effects of micro-gravity on vestibular development, visuo-motor control, virtual environments [flight/vehicle and near-visual-field simulation], computer graphics, Tele-immersion/networking and sensory/motor integration for navigation and wayfinding. The research thread that runs through all this work is to understand how humans and animals adapt to their changing environment. A change in environment maybe voluntary such as orbiting the earth in a space craft, adapting to the conditions of a virtual environment, or involuntary such as adapting to the consequences of a stroke, brain injury or the control of a prosthetic limb. In each case, the brain changes its behavior in some fashion that may or may not be helpful. This line of research endeavors to understand and document these changes and perhaps find better ways to improve adaptation. Since the area of adaptation is enormous, he has concentrated on three main sensory systems that form the most tractable adaptation processes and can be studied though behavior measures: vision, vestibular [balance], and haptics [force feedback]. Dr. Kenyon has fused his computer science knowledge with this area to bring new technology and methods to help investigate this complex area of science.

The micro-gravity research involved experiments on several Space Shuttle missions that studied the effects of micro-gravity [low earth orbit] on human/animal orientation: STS-9, Spacelab-1, German Space-lab (D-1), and STS-29 ("Chix in Space"). Much of this work was seminal to our understanding the effects of spaceflight on humans. The first 3 flights examined how humans adapt to microgravity and then re-adapt to earth when they return. The last flight refined our understanding of the effects of microgravity on vestibular development in embryo of the chicken. Dr. Kenyon's work on re-adaptation following space flight has produced seminal papers on how the balance system must change following exposure to microgravity. In addition to the direct science of the flight, the technological innovations that were needed to measure adaptation while on-orbit were also significant. The automated eye movements recording methods developed by Dr. Kenyon and his student (Parker) were important contributions to not only the science of the flight but some of their methods found significant applications in industry and are currently embedded in products we use today. The work on embryo development addressed the concern of the effects of human development and birth while in microgravity environment. This work points directly to our current endeavors to colonize the moon and travel to Mars. The contribution from this work indicates that space travel may not affect development of certain sensory system.

Dr. Kenyon's work on virtual environments (VE) started with flight simulators while at MIT and continued here at UIC with his involvement with the development of the CAVE. At MIT, he developed and delivered a wide-field-of-view computer-generated image superior to the current day head mounted displays to produce simulator-like experiences for AF pilots undergoing training at Brooks AFB centrifuge and disorientation trainers. He also was originator, director, of one of the first flight simulator courses in the country designed for professionals (MIT's summer session program). With this experience he was a major contributor to the development of the CAVE and understanding its advantages and limitations. He interests are mainly to understanding how limitations of a VE system (such as the CAVE) can affect human behavior. Other work has examined human performance in VEs and how to quantify the use of VEs for training and collaboration. For example, he and his student (Boer) development of system identification tool based on Kalman filters that can be used to estimate in real-time the delay and model coefficients of a human operator and how these characteristics change as the person's environment is changed. This work has applications in the new area of Brain Machine Interface where investigators connect a disabled person's brain through electrodes to control machines such as a computer. His work in adaptation has included some of the first work on the use of networked VE systems. Using both stand-alone CAVE applications and also multiple CAVEs in networked (i.e., tele-immersive) applications and a variety of networks from ISDN to the latest international networks (STARTAP) he showed how certain types of network delay can adversely affect user behavior and performance.

He continues to study the use of virtual environments in a variety of investigations that document its affects on human performance and its role in biocybernetics. This work is being carried out at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, involves the coupling of robots to VE. The initial work began with the integration of visual and motion information in maintaining erect posture. This work with Dr. Keshner has impacted the use of visual information for the study of posture control. Prior to this work, the use and efficacy of VE in this area was not appreciated. We have been able to show that we can explore areas of posture control that are mediated by higher level cognitive functions that were not realistically available to investigators prior to our work and the introduction to VE to this area. The application of VE and posture platform motion has been used to examine how young healthy individuals, elderly, and those with a loss of vestibular function combine visual and motion information to maintain erect posture. The use of complex visual scenes with physical motion has allowed the exploration of how these individuals integrate information from these sensors in the physical world. In addition to the work on posture, he and Dr. Patton have coupled VE and Robot systems to explore new methods that will aid in the rehabilitation of victims of stroke. Specifically, these systems are being used to apply both visual and haptic [force feedback] information in combinations that help the stroke patients regain control of affected limbs [arm motion]. In parallel with this work Dr. Kenyon is studying rehabilitation of hand motion in stroke patients with Dr. Kamper. Here they have combined a Head Mounted Display and a pneumatic appliance to train patients to regain hand mobility following stroke. This has also allowed investigators to understand better the learning and adaptations that are still possible following brain injury. Finally, Dr. Kenyon has embarked on the applying VE to area of prosthetic devices and how the combination of virtual and real objects can be used to train and improve the actions of persons that need to use prostheses. This work is in its initial stages and being conducted with Dr. Todd Kuiken at RIC. However, Dr. Kenyon has been able to attract several graduate students to contribute to this work.

Topic revision: r2 - 2009-09-14 - 20:52:21 - Main.kenyon
 
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