Dagmar Sternad

   Departments of Biology, Electrical & Computer Engineering,
   and Physics

Northeastern University
134 Mugar Life Science Building

360 Huntington Avenue

Boston, MA 02115

Phone : 617.373.5093

e-mail : dagmar@neu.edu

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The central interest of research in the Action Lab is the acquisition and control of goal-directed human movements. What organizational principles are at work in movement coordination? What principles guide the acquisition of novel skills? Specifically, our research focuses on the acquisition of novel perceptual-motor skills and on the manipulation of complex objects. The theoretical framework that pervades our studies interprets the actor as a dynamical system, which is high-dimensional, nonlinear, and capable of producing coordinated and adaptive actions. Our research pursues a three-pronged research strategy consisting of: (1) an empirical component with behavioral experiments on human subjects using virtual environments, (2) theoretical work which develops mathematical models of the behavioral task using dynamical systems, and (3) brain imaging and stimulation studies that investigate the cerebral activity accompanying coordinated actions. More recently, we have extended these experimental paradigms to individuals with neurological disorders such as stroke and dystonia, and to the elderly.



Selected Recent Publications:
  1. Nasseroleslami, B., Hasson, C. J., & Sternad, D. (in press). Rhythmic manipulation of objects with complex dynamics: Predictability over chaos. PLoS Computational Biology.

  2. Park, S., Dijkstra, T.M.H., & Sternad, D. (2013). Learning to never forget - time scales and specificity of long-term memory of a motor skill. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 7:111.

  3. Sternad,D., Abe, M.O., Hu, X., & Muller, H. (2011). Neuromotor noise, error tolerance and velocity- dependent costs in skilled performance. PLoS Computational Biology, 7(9), e1002159. 

  4. Sternad, D., Park, S., Muller, H., & Hogan, N. (2010). Coordinate dependence of variability analysis. PLoS Computational Biology, 6(4), e1000751.

Action Lab News:
  • Fei Ye defended her masters thesis on "Rhythmic Manipulation of a Complex Object.", July 11, 2014.

  • Meghan Huber spends a six-month-long research internship at the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tubingen, Germany, July - December 2014.

  • Dagmar spends six months of her sabbatical leave at the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tubingen, Germany, June 2014 - January 2015.

  • Dagmar received the 50th annual Robert D. Klein University Lecturer Award and gave a public lecture, 
"The wonder of human movement: How the brain controls the body." April 8, 2014.
  • Dena Guo and Julia Cowenhoven received a Provost Research Award for their undergraduate research in the Action Lab, Spring 2014.

  • Meghan Huber won the Best Student Poster Award for her research on "Development of a low-cost, adaptive, clinician-friendly virtual rehabilitation system." Presented at the International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation, Philadelphia, PA, August 26-29, 2013.

  • Se-Woong Park successfully defended his PhD dissertation on "Acquisition and retention of asymmetric bimanual skills: Behavioral correlates of neuroplasticity.", September 4, 2013

  • Julia Ebert received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most competitive national awards for undergraduate students, September 2013.

  • Se-Woong Park was placed as the first runner-up at the Northeastern University Annual Graduate Research Exhibition, RISE, and received an "honorable mention" at Biology Graduate Colloquium 2013.