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How do you grab a dog’s leash after it slips out of your hand? This is a deceptively simple task that we seem to perform without thinking, but it requires the successful collection and integration of a great deal of information. First, you notice that you dropped the leash as you feel it slip out of your hand and, in your peripheral vision, watch it fall rapidly to the ground. You are aware immediately and instinctually that you must pick the leash back up, and this is despite the fact that your dog is marching furiously away from you, dragging the leash behind him as he runs. In an instant you decide to act, make a plan to bend, and reach for and grasp the rapidly fleeing object. The task requires you to integrate proprioceptive information about the position of your own body and kinesthetic information about how that position changes as you move, as well as the visual information you are gathering about the changing location of the rapidly fleeing leash.
Our neuromotor system performs incredible feats when planning movement and working to control the complex machine we call our body, and this is true during even the simplest of tasks. Furthermore, tasks must be altered quickly while they are being executed to account for changing environments and the movement errors we make. In order to understand how we accomplish this, experts from several fields work collaboratively to design and execute experiments and then analyze and interpret the results. Many people are surprised that I, a neuroscientist, work in a biomedical engineering laboratory, but to fully understand the movements and behaviors we make, scientists in neuroscience, psychology, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and engineering must all work together. I find that I can help my students expand their understanding of neuromechanisms of the control of voluntary movement, whether it is studying how people reach for a moving leash or how survivors or stroke regain function of an upper extremity. Conversely, the engineers in our laboratory have taught me a great deal about data collection devices, programming, and modeling behaviors. I believe this diverse and collaborative environment results in more well-rounded students and mentors, as well as better research questions and better research projects.
Motor Control, including:
Lantagne DD, Mrotek LA, Slick RA, Beardsley SA, Thomas DG, Scheidt RA. Contributions of implicit and explicit memories to sensorimotor adaptation of movement extent during goal directed reaching. Exp Brain Res. 2021 June; 239: 2445–2459.
. Applied sciences (Basel, Switzerland). 2019 October; 9(20):4329.
Iandolo R, Carè M, Shah V, Schiavi S, Bommarito G, Boffa G, Mrotek LA, Giannoni P, Inglese M, Scheidt RA, Casadio M A two-alternative forced choice method for assessing vibrotactile discrimination thresholds in the lower limb. Somatosensory and Motor Res. 2019 Jun;36(2), 162–170.
Exp Brain Res. 2019 Aug; 237(8):2075-2086. doi: 10.1007/s00221-019-05564-5. Epub 2019 Jun 7.
Supplemental vibrotactile feedback of real-time limb position enhances precision of goal-directed reaching. J Neurophysiol. 2019 Jul 1;122(1):22-38. doi: 10.1152/jn.00337.2018. Epub 2019 Apr 17.
Effect of Dual Tasking on Vibrotactile Feedback Guided Reaching—A Pilot Study. Haptics (2018). 2018 Jun;10893:3-14. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-93445-7_1. Epub 2018 Jun 5.
Biofeedback-Based, Videogame Balance Training in Autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Jan;48(1):163-175.
The Arm Movement Detection (AMD) test: a fast robotic test of proprioceptive acuity in the arm. J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2017 Jun 28;14(1):64.