Project: Research project

Project Details


The proposed mentored research scientist award aims to develop the
applicant's basic research skills in order to prepare for independent
investigations directed toward improving clinical rehabilitation for
individuals with movement impairments. The applicant's academic and
research training are as follows: following clinical training in
Occupational Therapy (B Sc.), the candidate received advanced degrees in
Physiology/Neurobiology (M.Sc.) and in Neuroscience (Ph.D.). The primary
sponsor for this plan is Dr. Claude Ghez, a neuroscientist who has worked
in the field of motor control for over 25 years. Dr. John Medige, a
senior biomechanics faculty, and Dr. David Lichter, a clinical neurology
faculty will also serve as mentors. The plan will be carried out at the
School of Health Related Professions, department of Occupational Therapy,
an outstanding and developing multidisciplinary research environment.

RESEARCH PLAN: The goal of the current project is to characterize the
sensorimotor mechanisms through which the nervous system achieves accurate
control over hand trajectories during reaching movements. This work
builds on previous findings obtained by the applicant which showed that in
the absence of proprioceptive information and specific learning,
mechanical interactions generated at each joint by the motions at other
joints produce profound incoordination and distortions in the hand path.
The proposed work provides a unique approach in which the mass
distribution of the forearm is experimentally manipulated to
systematically vary the amplitude of these interactions at the elbow. In
this way, we will explore how interaction torques are learned and how this
learning is represented by the nervous system. Specifically, the research
will examine the degree to which the learning of limb interaction torques
generalizes across different task parameters, the nature of muscle
strategies used to adapt to novel interaction torques, and the roles of
different types of feedback in this adaptation. We hope, through this
study, to establish the feasibility of using auditory substitution of
kinesthetic input in the rehabilitation of patients with impaired
coordination due to sensory loss.
Effective start/end date9/1/978/31/98


  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

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