The goal of the Virtual Reality Lab is to make the environments as natural as possible while allowing experimental control. One of the motivations for using naturalistic conditions is that the results have immediate applicability to the real world, with consequent applications in a variety of domains including neuropsychological evaluation and human-computer interactions. At a more theoretical level, it is necessary for us to define exactly what the visual system actually has to do in normal functioning. It is also necessary that the environments provide the same challenges as normal environments where observers must select necessary information from a complex unsegmented visual array, in the presence of global transients generated by the observer's own movements.
It is also necessary to examine behavior in real environments in order to validate performance in the virtual environment. Behavior in real environments also generates hypotheses about visuo-motor control that can then be translated into the virtual environment for testing. Our central driving hypothesis is that the moment-to-moment coordination of the body, particularly the interrelation of eye and hand movements at sub-second timescales, in the context of ongoing tasks, reveals the underlying organization of neural control of behavior.