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Intramural Research Seminars


Understanding how sensory information affects voluntary movements: towards individualized rehabilitative interventions

Kevin Mazurek, Ph.D. - Research Assistant Professor
Department of Neuroscience
University of Rochester

 Dec 11, 2019 @ 4:00 p.m.

Focal neurologic injuries such as stroke may result in motor deficits that impair an individual’s ability to perform skilled movements. Motor deficits are the most common impairment for stroke survivors and can result in decreased quality of life and an increased dependence on caregivers to perform daily tasks. Currently, there is no “gold standard” rehabilitative strategy for improving motor outcomes. One potential approach to restore function could involve augmenting the function of intact neural pathways to compensate for the damaged neural pathways. Such a strategy requires identifying the intact and damaged neural networks after injury and determining what information is no longer communicated correctly. Complex sensorimotor integration tasks in immersive multisensory environments are advantageous for characterizing neural activity involved in controlling voluntary movements. The parietofrontalpathway is involved in transforming multisensory information into task-related movements. Understanding how parietofrontalactivity encodes specific features of a sensorimotor integration task may help characterize the normal function of the neural circuits as well as identify how and where neural activity might be impaired after injury.
In one study, healthy young adults used auditory or visual stimuli as instructions for manipulating different objects. These instructions explicitly or implicitly described the action to be performed. Neural activity recorded from motor cortex and posterior parietal cortex discharged differently based on the instruction used and the action performed. Similar neural responses were detected in another study involving older adults and patients who initially had impaired arm function after stroke. These findings demonstrate a proof-of-concept multisensory behavioral paradigm to characterize the neural principles of sensorimotor integration. Such a framework is important for characterizing the neural underpinnings of sensorimotor integration as well as determining what neural activity is impaired in clinical populations such as stroke. Future studies could then identify the damaged and intact neural pathways after injury as targets for rehabilitation or biomarkers for motor recovery.

 Medical Center | K307 (3-6408)

Host: Dept. of Neuroscience Faculty Search Committee