Dr. Leigh Ann Mrotek

Dr. Leigh Ann Mrotek
Dr. Leigh Ann MrotekMarquette University

Cramer Hall, 164C (Office)

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America
(414) 288-6292Profile at McPherson Eye Research Institute
e-Publications

Research Professor

Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering

Co-Director

NeuroMotor Control Laboratory

Professional Philosophy 

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.

Professional Preparation

  • Ph.D., 2005, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota
  • M.S., 2000, Human Kinetics, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
  • BS, 1997, Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Research Interests

Motor Control, including:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Smooth pursuit tracking of object motion
  • Interception of moving objects

Selected Publications

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.

Shah VA, Casadio M, Mrotek LA, Scheidt RA. Vibration propagation on the skin of the arm. 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.  

Shah VA, Casadio M, Scheidt RA, Mrotek LA. Spatial and temporal influences on discrimination of vibrotactile stimuli on the arm. Exp Brain Res. 2019 Aug; 237(8):2075-2086. doi: 10.1007/s00221-019-05564-5. Epub 2019 Jun 7. 

Risi N, Shah V, Mrotek LA, Casadio M, Scheidt RA. 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. 

Shah VA, Risi N, Ballardini G, Mrotek LA, Casadio M, Scheidt RA. 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. 

Travers BG, Mason AH, Mrotek LA, Ellertson A, Dean DC 3rd, Engel C, Gomez A, Dadalko OI, McLaughlin K. Biofeedback-Based, Videogame Balance Training in Autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Jan;48(1):163-175. 

Mrotek LA, Bengtson M, Stoeckmann T, Botzer L, Ghez CP, McGuire J, Scheidt RA. 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. 

Recent Grants

  • Mrotek, LA (Co-Principal Investigator); Scheidt, Robert (PI); Neilson, Kristy (Co-I). "Augmenting kinesthetic feedback to improve hemiparetic arm control after stroke."  Sponsored by NIH, R15 (June 2017–May 2024).
  • Mrotek, LA (Co-Principal Investigator); Scheidt, RA (PI); Beardsley, Scott A (Co-PI); Nielson, Kristy (Co-PI); “Neural mechanisms of error correction during manual interception of moving targets.” Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (September 1, 2021–February 28, 2023).
  • Mrotek, LA (Principal Investigator); Beardsley, Scott (Co-PI); Medeiros, Henry (Co-PI).  "Physical State Estimation for Control, Coordination and Behavior Monitoring."  Sponsored by NSF, IRES Track I (August 2019–August 2022).
  • Mrotek, LA (Co-Principal Investigator); Casadio, Maura (Co-PI); Ranganathan, Rajiv (PI). "Optimizing Motor Coordination through Principles of Motor Relearning." Sponsored by NSF (August 2018–August 2021).

Investigator working in the lab.

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