Dinesh Pai

Wall Associate




Department of Computer Science





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Dinesh Pai

Dr. Dinesh Pai is Professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia, where he directs the Sensorimotor Systems Laboratory. He is also a member of the Institute of Applied Mathematics, the Graduate Program in Neuroscience, the ICORD International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries, and the Brain Research Centre. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and his B.Tech. degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Dr. Pai’s current research is focused on sensorimotor computation in computer graphics, robotics, and neurobiology. His focus is on understanding the principles used by the brain and the musculoskeletal system to control and sense movement. The goal is to develop a constructive and not just a descriptive, understanding, which can be tested with realistic, large scale, computational models of the neuromechanical systems of humans and other animals. The computational models being developed also have applications in diagnosis and treatment of sensorimotor pathologies (such as spinal cord injury and strabismus), more realistic computer animation, and construction of robots with human-like capabilities.

Primary Recipient Awards

Dinesh Pai – Wall Colloquia Abroad – 2011
Multimodal and Sensorimotor Bionics Principal Investigator: Dinesh Pai, Department of Computer Science, UBC; Tier 1 Canada Research Chair. The Institute will hold a colloquium abroad at the Institute for Advanced Study, Technical University of Munich, Germany, July 25-28, 2011. This colloquium was co-organized and co-funded, with funds from the Wall Colloquia Abroad program, with our partner institute, the Technical University of Munich, Institute for Advanced Study (TUM-IAS) and was held at the TUM-IAS. The colloquium brought together an interdisciplinary group of experts from Europe and North America to try to understand basic principles underlying both biological sensorimotor systems such as human hands and robots, eye movements in humans and robotic vision systems. Other themes included the use of computational models to assist in diagnosis and treatment of sensorimotor pathologies and the design of high performance robots based on biological principles.
Dinesh Pai – International Exchanges – 2009
Dinesh Pai, Department of Computer Science, UBC; Conférencier Invité, Collège de France, May/June 2009. Professor Pai gave four lectures in English during his stay: Creating virtual objects that look, feel, and sound real Automated capture of human movement and object behavior What robots teach us about human movement Modeling the neurobiology of human movement
Dinesh Pai – Major Thematic Grant – 2008
Sensorimotor computation forms the bridge between abstract information processing in the human brain and the concrete reality of the physical world. It studies how the brain perceives the state of its external environment (using exteroceptive sensors such as vision and touch) and the state of its own body (using proprioceptive sensors such as muscle spindles and the vestibular organs), and takes action by controlling muscles. Human sensorimotor systems normally perform so flawlessly that it is easy to overlook the extraordinary sophistication behind ordinary actions such as looking at an object with our eyes and picking it up with our hand. Indeed, these actions appear simple to us precisely because our brains and bodies have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to perform complex sensorimotor tasks without much conscious thought. The sophistication only becomes apparent when we try to reproduce these "ordinary" skills in robots, or when we observe the development of these skills in childhood and their loss in the elderly. The scientific goal of this project is to model the complex computations, sensing, and motor actions that are required to control our eyes and hand when we look at or reach out for an object of interest. Specifically, we will construct computational models of how the eyes and head are moved to direct gaze to objects of interest in the environment, and how the hand manipulates objects. These models will be firmly based on neurobiological measurements of how humans actually perform these tasks. The results will have important implications for applied clinical research and therefore for human health in the long term.
Dinesh Pai – Exploratory Workshops – 2006
This workshop took place Feb 9-11, 2007. The workshop is focused on Sensorimotor Computation, a highly interdisciplinary topic that seeks to develop a deep understanding of how the human brain and spinal cord interact with the real world through the senses and muscles, using techniques from many fields ranging from neurobiology to computer science. We will convene a diverse group of researchers for a three day interactive workshop to explore the state of the art, exchange ideas, and identify promising new research directions. The workshop will explore three specific topics: eye movements, dexterity, and balance. We will critically examine the empirical evidence for each topic from neurobiology and from the point of view of computational modeling and machine learning.

Co-Principal Investigator Awards

Miriam Spering – Wall Solutions – 2017

Developing a Portable Dynamic Vision Test for the Aging Population

Principal Investigators: Dr. Miriam Spering, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, UBC; Dr. Dinesh Pai, Department of Computer Science, UBC

Partner Organization: Mary-Lou Jackson, Vision Rehabilitation Program, Vancouver General Hospital

Vision loss among the elderly is a multidimensional challenge and a major health care problem. In Canada, the direct cost of vision loss is the highest of any disease category. Regular eye examinations are important to help correct visual acuity, and to prevent and treat eye diseases. However, standard vision tests do not measure sensitivity to moving objects, an ability that is critical for everyday tasks such as driving. Dynamic vision tests exist in the research laboratory, but they are lengthy and complicated, and not suitable for use in older adults. We will develop new technology enabling easy and quick assessment of motion sensitivity, using instinctive eye movement responses. This test will be accessible to the aging population regardless of language ability, cognitive, or motor deficits. It will promote vision health literacy, and empower users to be proactive about vision health, thereby boosting an active lifestyle, increasing mobility, and independence.