Dagmar Sternad

Departments of Biology, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Physics

Dagmar Sternad


Research Summary:

The central interest of research in the Action Lab is the control and coordination of goal-directed human behavior. What organizational principles are at work in movement coordination? What perceptual information is used to coordinate the complex neuromuscular structure? The theoretical framework that pervades our studies interprets the actor in the environment as a dynamical system, which is high-dimensional, nonlinear, and capable of producing coordinated and adaptive behavior. More specifically, our research agenda focuses on single- and multi- joint human movements in perceptually specified tasks. We pursue a three-pronged research strategy consisting of: (1) an empirical component with behavioral experiments on human subjects, (2) theoretical work which develops mathematical models for movement generation on the basis of coupled dynamical systems, and (3) brain imaging studies that investigate the cerebral activity accompanying movement. More recently, we have extended these experimental paradigms to neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and split-brain patients, and the elderly.

Selected Recent Publications:

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

Ronsse, R., Wei, K., & Sternad, D. (2010). Optimal control of a hybrid rhythmic-discrete task: the bouncing ball revised. Journal of Neurophysiology, 103, 2482-2493.

Raftery, A. Cusumano, J., & Sternad, D. (2008). Chaotic frequency scaling in a coupled oscillator model for free rhythmic actions. Neural Computation, 20, 205-226.

Wei, K., Dijkstra, T. M. H., & Sternad, D. (2007). Passive stability and active control in a rhythmic task. Journal of Neurophysiology, 98, 5, 2633-2646.

Schaal S., Sternad D., Osu R. & Kawato M. (2004). Rhythmic arm movements are not discrete. Nature Neuroscience 7,10, 1136-1143.

Dijkstra T. M. H., Katsumata H., de Rugy A. & Sternad D. (2004). The dialogue between data and model: Passive stability and relaxation behavior in a ball bouncing task. Nonlinear Studies, 11, 3, 319-345.