Selected Research Projects

Overview

Our lab focuses on understanding how the brain organizes voluntary action, from planning through to action and how motor learning is represented in the human brain.  We currently use neuroimaging (functional MRI and EEG) and behavioral methods to examine these issues.  Our work has implications for neurological rehabilitation and potential improved diagnosis.  The main topics of current interest appear below.

Motor Learning

This line of research investigates basic principles of brain organization of motor learning.  Topics currently include:

Organizing Principles and Visual Motor Transformations 

This line of research investigates basic principles of brain organization of voluntary movement and how the oculomotor system integrates with the skeletal-motor systems.  Topics have and currently include:

Action Intention

This relatively new line of research investigates the brain organization of action intention.  We have examined the focal activation and network activity when participants freely chose an action compared to when they move to an instructed location.  We are currently conducting studies with EEG methods to improve the temporal resolution of our analysis. 

Bédard P, Thaweerattanasinp T, Sanes JN (2010)  Human Parietal-Frontal Representations of Action Selection.  Abstract Viewer/Itinerary Planner. Washington, DC: Society for Neuroscience.

Neurological Dysfunctions

This set of studies has focused on examining behavioral and  brain mechanisms in patients with neurological disorders, mostly motor dysfunction, particularly Parkinson's disease in current work and cerebellar dysfunction and deafferentation in earlier work.  The aim of these studies is to understand the beahvioral and brain processes that go awry with neurological disorders while also aiming to reveal what and how the affected regions and circuits operate in healthy humans.  The outcome of the work also has implications for diagnosis and treatment, particularly from a rehabilitation perspective.

Other and Collaborative Projects

We have several other projects, past and current done within the lab or with collaborators.  In recent years, we have worked with biostatisticians to develop new methods to interrogate brain imaging data.