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Research Summary

We are amazingly adept at moving our body. We produce a large variety of movements like walking, jumping, riding a bike, playing tennis, lifting up different objects or mastering a musical instrument. All these movements can be acquired and perfected through training, reaching a level of proficiency unreached by any man made system. The Neural Control of Movement Lab investigates how the human brain acquires and controls new movements and how it recovers from injury or degeneration. To do so we use a variety of methods including functional magnetic resonance imaging and non-invasive brain stimulation.

Default mode network

Motor control, motor learning and motivation

We want to understand how behavior is controlled by the brain and flexibly adapted depending on the constraints and rewards present in the environment. We are interested in a broad range of behavioral processes including sensorimotor control and learning, spatial navigation, and how different rewards influence choices and the willingness to invest effort. We perform experiments in different species and use paradigms from various research domains encouraging cross-fertilization and creativity to yield insights into the control mechanisms of the human brain. Read more

Neural Oscillations


One major research focus of our lab is to develop new non-invasive interfaces to modulate brain function. This is achieved through various forms of brain stimulation, some that alter ongoing neural processes in the brain (Van den Berg et al. 2010, Saucedo-Marquez et al. 2013, Zhang et al. 2014), and others that evoke motor responses to provide a marker of changes in the state of motor networks (Vercauteren et al. 2009, Van den Berg et al. 2011). We currently use tACS to entrain brain rhythms, which allows us to investigate the functional role of oscillatory neuronal activity. Other forms of neuromodulaton include tDCS, tRNS and static-magnetic stimulation, each of which use a different mechanism to change ongoing brain activity. TMS is used to estimate the state of the motor system. For example, we can use TMS to measure a change in the brain that has been brought about by other neuromodulatory techniques. Read more


Normal and pathological brain connectivity

Complex brain functions are not restricted to a single brain region but arise from interactions between many areas. We are interested in measuring long-range connectivity at the functional and the structural level and investigate how connectivity patterns change due to pathology. Functional connectivity reflects the communication between brain regions and can be measured using techniques like EEG and resting-state fMRI. Structural connectivity concerns the anatomical connections between brain regions (white matter pathways), which we measure using DTI. Disruptions in functional and structural connectivity can have a serious impact on normal function. In our lab we investigate this in the context of disorders like autism and cerebral palsy. Additionally, in healthy adults we are working on ways to alter functional connectivity between motor areas using non-invasive brain stimulation. Read more

Computational brain image

Novel approaches to neuroimaging

While the last decades of neuroimaging research have been dedicated to identifying the anatomical substrate underlying specific functions, the future challenge is to understand the computational principles that guide how information is processed in the human brain. In our lab we use machine learning, computational modelling and the integration of multiple imaging technologies for providing new insights into the dynamics of brain function. Read more

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