Dr. Etienne Burdet is Professor and Chair of Human Robotics at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in UK. He is also a visiting Professor at Nanyang Technology in Singapore and at University College London. He holds an MSc in Mathematics (1990), an MSc in Physics (1991), and a PhD in Robotics (1996), all from ETH-Zürich. He was a postdoctoral fellow with TE Milner from McGill University, Canada, JE Colgate from Northwestern University, USA and Mitsuo Kawato of ATR in Japan. Professor Burdet’s group uses an integrative approach of neuroscience and robotics to: i) investigate human motor control, and ii) design efficient systems for training and rehabilitation, which are tested in clinical trials.
Andrea d'Avella obtained a B.Sc. in Physics at Milan University, and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at MIT in 2000. In 2003 he joined the Laboratory of Neuromotor Physiology at Fondazione Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy. Since 2015 he is Professor of Physiology in the Department of Biomedical, Dental Sciences and Morphofunctional Imaging at the University of Messina, Italy. His research is focused on investigating sensorimotor control of reaching, throwing and catching movements, muscle synergies in healthy subjects and after neurological lesions, and motor adaptation.
Dr. Tessa Dekker obtained her PhD at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London, under supervision of Prof. Marty Sereno, Prof. Denis Mareschal, and Prof Mark Johnson. Her thesis focussed on the development of object processing for action in the dorsal and ventral stream. In her postdoc, she worked with Dr. Marko Nardini at the UCL Institute of Opthalmology, studying the development of sensory and visuomotor integration in childhood. Since January 2016, Dr. Dekker has worked as a Research Fellow at the UCL Division of Language and Psychology, on an ESRC Future Leaders Fellowship. She heads the Child Vision Lab, partially based at Experimental Psychology, and at the Institute of Opthalmology, which investigates development of vision and vision for action in normal and atypical development.
Dr. Dekker's lab studies how genes, brains, and experience interact during development to shape how we see and act on the world. How does the ability to detect patterns in noisy visual signals become optimised during development? And how does the developing system learn to use this information to guide efficient action and decision-making? The lab has recently also started to study how these processes are affected by atypical vision, and what the scope is for therapy- and experience-dependent plasticity at the neural and behavioural level. To study these questions, the lab takes a multi-method approach that combines psychophysics, virtual reality, model-based analyses of behavioural data (e.g. fitting performance to mathematical ideal observer models), eye-tracking, EEG, and state-of the art fMRI methods. A major focus of the lab, is to find better ways to use these methods to obtain precise and reliable measures from very young children.
Jaap van Dieën obtained his PhD from the ‘Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’ in the Netherlands in 1993 and currently is professor of biomechanics and department head of the department of Human Movement Sciences at this university. He leads a research group focusing on the neuromechanics of ageing and musculoskeletal and movement disorders. His research is centered around three themes: 1) control of trunk posture and movement, 2) control of balance and gait stability and 3) the development of clinically applicable algorithms and instrumentation. Jaap van Dieën has (co-) authored over 400 papers in international scientific journals.
Nadia Dominici is an associate professor at the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Science at Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam where she works on the interplay between brain and muscular activity underlying walking in children, as well as on the biomechanics of human locomotion. After a master diploma in Physics, and a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Rome she has held research positions at the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome, at the University of Zürich, and EPFL in Lausanne. She was awarded a 5-year NWO Vidi and Aspasia grants in 2015, and a 5-year ERC Starting Grant in 2016.
In 2008 I completed my PhD on bimanual motor control at the University of Birmingham with Prof. Chris Miall. I then worked at Johns Hopkins University as a research fellow where I investigated the neural correlates of motor learning with Prof. Pablo Celnik. Following this, I moved to University College London as a senior research fellow with Prof. John Rothwell and became interested in the role of dopamine in motor learning. In 2012 I took up an independent research fellow post at the University of Birmingham and became a senior lecturer in 2016. My current research focusses on the effects of reward on motor learning and control and is currently funded by a European Research Council starting grant.
Emeritus of the Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, Dortmund, and Visiting Professor at Bielefeld University (Cognitive Neuroscience Lab); research interests are human performance (movement, perception, action) and work-related variations of performance and health. Diploma in Psychology (1973), Dr.rer.nat. (1978), both at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Habilitation (1984) at Bielefeld University. Between 1976 and 1991 various positions as research assistant, professor, visiting professor, and fellow in Marburg, Bielefeld, Düsseldorf, Regensburg, Los Angeles, and Wassenaar/NL, Professor of Work Psychology and Experimental Psychology in Dortmund from 1991 until retirement in 2014.
Tibor Hortobágyi, Professor of Movement and Healthy Aging - University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands After receiving PhD in biomechanics and motor control at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, my research examined the effects of age and exercise interventions on the neural control of voluntary movement. The gait work in collaboration with Dr. Paul DeVita at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA, uncovered the phenomenon of biomechanical plasticity, a reorganization of the mechanical control of gait associated with aging. The posture work at the University of Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands, examines how excitatory and inhibitory motor cortical circuits adapt to age and standing difficulty. The motor learning work in Groningen, the focus of this meeting’s presentation, examines the effects of age, somatosensory inputs, and task difficulty on the acquisition, retention, and transfer of visuomotor skills.
Sabine Hunnius is Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at Radboud University, Nijmegen (The Netherlands). She studied Psychology at the Freie Universität Berlin (Germany) and obtained her PhD from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands) for a longitudinal study into attention and looking behavior in infants. After conducting research at Tilburg University (The Netherlands) and Uppsala University (Sweden), she joined Radboud University in 2007 as director of the Baby and Child Research Center. Her research examines the developmental mechanisms and neurocognitive changes underlying early social-cognitive development. Specifically, she investigates how young children’s motor development is related to their developing action understanding. Together with Michiel van Elk, she published the popular science book Het babybrein (The Baby Brain).
Lee E. Miller is a Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience in the Departments of Physiology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University. He was inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2016 and is the current president of the Society for the Neural Control of Movement. Dr. Miller has had a career-long interest in the signals generated by neurons during arm movement. In the past 10 years, his lab has increasingly focused on translational research, including the use of brain machine interfaces to restore movement and sensation to spinal cord injured patients.
Ilana Nisky received the B.Sc, M.Sc., and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She was then a postdoc in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, and since 2014, she is a senior lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where she founded and is the head of the Biomedical Robotics Lab. Her research interests include human sensorimotor control, manual interaction with objects, haptics, robotics, human and machine learning, teleoperation, and robot-assisted surgery. She served as an executive committee member of the EuroHaptics Society, and she is a senior member of IEEE.
Rachael Seidler is a Professor in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida. Her research focuses on the neural control of movement in health and disease, with a specific focus on motor learning. She uses a range of neuroimaging and neuromodulation techniques coupled with precise measures of movement and cognitive function to determine the neurocognitive underpinnings of motor control. Dr. Seidler has expertise working with a variety of populations including healthy young and older adults, patients with Parkinson’s disease, and NASA astronauts in both basic science and intervention experiments. Her work has been supported by the NIH, the NSF, NASA, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), and a variety of private foundations. Active work in her lab includes investigation of human brain plasticity with spaceflight and experiments investigating which cognitive processes support skill acquisition and how they map onto underlying neural pathways.
It's Not (Only) the Mean that Matters: Variability in Exploration, Learning and Forgetting
Acquiring a new motor skill manifests in a decrease of mean error and variability. However, variability is more than undesired “noise” and its temporal and distributional structure characterizes control. This talk reviews selected studies on exploration, learning and retention demonstrating how the neuromotor system in interaction with task constraints creates and exploits solution spaces with different degrees of noise-sensitivity. Exploration of these solution spaces is followed by exploitation of dynamic stability including channeling and attenuation of noise. Consistent with advances in the physical sciences, there is also increasing realization that noise can have beneficial effects: interventions that amplify intrinsic noise or add extrinsic noise can guide the (re-)learning of desired behaviors. Lastly, analyses of retention of an acquired motor skill show how variability and noise are also characteristic features of the forgetting process.