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Martha Gdowski

TitleAssociate Professor
InstitutionSchool of Medicine and Dentistry
DepartmentNeurobiology and Anatomy
AddressUniversity of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 603
Rochester NY 14642
 Awards And Honors
2009     First Year SMD Teaching Commendation  | University of Rochester School of Medicine Class of 2012
1993     Teacher Appreciation Award
1997 - 2001Ruggles Fellowship in Movement Disorders
1996     National Hydrocephalus Foundation Award for Presenation of Research at the Pediatric Section Meeting of the AANS  | American Association of Neurological Surgeons
1992     Excellence in Teaching Award
1993     Graduate Assistant Award for Outstanding Teaching
1994 - 1995P.E.O. Scholar Award Educational Grant  | Philanthropic Education Organization (P.E.O.)
2010     Manuel D. Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching 1st Year Medical Students
2014     Manuel D. Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching 1st Year Medical Students  | University of Rochester School of Medicine Class of 2017

Sensorimotor Integration in the Basal Ganglia

Many variables influence the decision of whether and when to initiate, suppress, or alter a movement in progress. These decisions, and the movements that follow, are likely orchestrated using basal ganglia circuitry. We postulate that one role of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is to arrest highly practiced movements or movements that are in progress in order to allow for the evaluation of the need for an adjustment of the movement command. The decision to generate a voluntary movement is preceded by evaluation of the context in which the movement is to occur. Consider the factors that influence our motivation to pet a purring cat, or to suppress the petting of a dog. Prior experiences providing a cumulative record of positive or negative outcomes are likely to be strong influences in these evaluations. For instance, prior experiences with a family cat may have proven to be pleasing, whereas a menacing encounter with an unfamiliar dog may have had adverse consequences. These are simple examples of how past and current context contribute to the ultimate decision to move. If the neural circuitry that is responsible for these evaluations are impaired, inappropriate inhibition or facilitation of movements will occur. Several lines of evidence suggest that STN function is impaired in Parkinson Disease (PD) and that treatment with dopamine agonists (Levadopa) or STN deep brain stimulation (STN-DBS) may further alter STN function, changing the way in which voluntary movement decisions are made. Work in collaboration with Jonathan W. Mink, MD, PhD and Michelle Burack, MD, PhD examines the effects of drug and deep brain stimulation treatments for PD by quantifying limb movement during the performance of tasks that require sensorimotor integration.


Khandwala, V.J., LeBlanc, J.M., Ochocki, B, and Gdowski, M.J. 3-D Motion analysis of planning-related changes in upper limb kinematics resulting from normal aging, Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 2008.
Suzanne N. Haber and Martha Johnson Gdowski The Basal Ganglia. In: The Human Nervous System, 2nd Edition (George Paxinos and Jurgen K. Mai, eds.). San Diego, Elsevier Science/Academic Press (2004).
Gdowski, M.J., Miller, L.E., Nenonene, E., Parrish, T., Houk, J.C. Context-dependency in the Globus Pallidus Internal Segment During Targeted Arm Movements. Journal of Neurophysiology 85:998-1004, 2001.
Luciano, M.G., Skarupa, D.J., Booth, A.M., Wood, A.S., Brant, C.L., Gdowski, M.J. Cerebrovascular Adaptation in Chronic Hydrocephalus. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism. 21(3):285-94, 2001.
Johnson, M.J., Ayzman, I., Wood, A.S., Tkach, J.A., Klauschie, J., Skarupa, D.J., McAllister, J.P., and Luciano, M.G. Development and Characterization of an adult model of obstructive hydrocephalus. J. Neurosci. Methods 91(1-2):55-65, 1999.
Mangano, F.T., McAllister, J.P., II, Jones, HC, Johnson, M.J., Kriebel, R.M. The microglial response to progressive hydrocephalus in a model of inherited aqueductal stenosis. Neurological Research 20(8):697-704, 1998.
McAllister, J.P., II, Chovan, P., Steiner, C.P., Johnson, M.J., Ayzman, I., Wood, AS, Tkach, JA, Hahn, J.F. and Luciano, M.G. Differential ventricular expansion in hydrocephalus. European Journal of Pediatric Surgery, Suppl 1:39-42, 1998.
Johnson, M.J. and Alloway, K.D. Cross correlation analysis reveals laminar differences in thalamocortical interactions in the somatosensory system. Journal of Neurophysiology, 75: 1444 57, 1996.

 Selected Publications
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  1. Luan H, Gdowski MJ, Newlands SD, Gdowski GT. Convergence of vestibular and neck proprioceptive sensory signals in the cerebellar interpositus. J Neurosci. 2013 Jan 16; 33(3):1198-210.
    View in: PubMed
  2. Khandwala VJ, Burack MA, Mink JW, Gdowski GT, Gdowski MJ. Measurement of upper limb kinematics and joint angle patterns during deep brain stimulation for parkinson's disease. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2009; 2009:1553-6.
    View in: PubMed
  3. Brown ET, Luan H, Gdowski MJ, Gdowski GT. Head movements produced during linear translations in unexpected directions. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2009; 2009:7261-4.
    View in: PubMed
  4. Gdowski MJ, Miller LE, Bastianen CA, Nenonene EK, Houk JC. Signaling patterns of globus pallidus internal segment neurons during forearm rotation. Brain Res. 2007 Jun 25; 1155:56-69.
    View in: PubMed
  5. Luciano MG, Skarupa DJ, Booth AM, Wood AS, Brant CL, Gdowski MJ. Cerebrovascular adaptation in chronic hydrocephalus. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2001 Mar; 21(3):285-94.
    View in: PubMed
  6. Gdowski MJ, Miller LE, Parrish T, Nenonene EK, Houk JC. Context dependency in the globus pallidus internal segment during targeted arm movements. J Neurophysiol. 2001 Feb; 85(2):998-1004.
    View in: PubMed
  7. McAllister JP, Wood AS, Johnson MJ, Connelly RW, Skarupa DJ, Secic M, Luciano MG, Harris NG, Jones HC. Decreased c-fos expression in experimental neonatal hydrocephalus: evidence for reduced neuronal activation. Neurosurg Focus. 1999 Oct 15; 7(4):e13.
    View in: PubMed
  8. Johnson MJ, Ayzman I, Wood AS, Tkach JA, Klauschie J, Skarupa DJ, McAllister JP, Luciano MG. Development and characterization of an adult model of obstructive hydrocephalus. J Neurosci Methods. 1999 Sep 15; 91(1-2):55-65.
    View in: PubMed
  9. McAllister JP, Chovan P, Steiner CP, Johnson MJ, Ayzman I, Wood AS, Tkach JA, Hahn JF, Luciano MG. Differential ventricular expansion in hydrocephalus. Eur J Pediatr Surg. 1998 Dec; 8 Suppl 1:39-42.
    View in: PubMed
  10. Mangano FT, McAllister JP, Jones HC, Johnson MJ, Kriebel RM. The microglial response to progressive hydrocephalus in a model of inherited aqueductal stenosis. Neurol Res. 1998 Dec; 20(8):697-704.
    View in: PubMed
  11. Johnson MJ, Alloway KD. Cross-correlation analysis reveals laminar differences in thalamocortical interactions in the somatosensory system. J Neurophysiol. 1996 Apr; 75(4):1444-57.
    View in: PubMed
  12. Alloway KD, Johnson MJ, Aaron GB. A comparative analysis of coordinated neuronal activity in the thalamic ventrobasal complex of rats and cats. Brain Res. 1995 Sep 11; 691(1-2):46-56.
    View in: PubMed
  13. Johnson MJ, Alloway KD. Evidence for synchronous activation of neurons located in different layers of primary somatosensory cortex. Somatosens Mot Res. 1995; 12(3-4):235-47.
    View in: PubMed
  14. Alloway KD, Wallace MB, Johnson MJ. Cross-correlation analysis of cuneothalamic interactions in the rat somatosensory system: influence of receptive field topography and comparisons with thalamocortical interactions. J Neurophysiol. 1994 Oct; 72(4):1949-72.
    View in: PubMed
  15. Johnson MJ, Alloway KD. Sensory modulation of synchronous thalamocortical interactions in the somatosensory system of the cat. Exp Brain Res. 1994; 102(2):181-97.
    View in: PubMed
  16. Alloway KD, Johnson MJ, Wallace MB. Thalamocortical interactions in the somatosensory system: interpretations of latency and cross-correlation analyses. J Neurophysiol. 1993 Sep; 70(3):892-908.
    View in: PubMed


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