Training in the Neurobiology of Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences

The goal of this training grant is to support a new interdisciplinary program in Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences (MRS), created at Northwestern University under the umbrella of the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience (NUIN) program. The mission of the NUIN-MRS program is to train students with clinical and life/applied science backgrounds to become rehabilitation scientists in basic, translational or clinical research. These rehabilitation scientists will have the ability to integrate knowledge from the various disciplines involved in MRS, including neuroscience and physiology, engineering and clinical sciences. The training program will focus on the neurobiology of movement and rehabilitation sciences, with three main goals: 1) understanding the neurobiology of movement behavior and disorders, 2) identifying and addressing the need for quantitative methods in MRS and 3) applying this knowledge to the development of effective rehabilitation interventions.

The theme of Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences (MRS) requires the familiarity with a number approaches in the area of biomechanics, imaging, robotics and signal analysis as well as an in-depth knowledge about systems neurobiology and the neurobiology of movement disorders.
  1. Neurobiology of movement behavior
    Members of the departments of Physiology, PTHMS, PM&R, Neurology, ME and BME use animal models (monkey, cat and rat) to study the basic mechanisms underlying movement behavior. Specific research foci include: cortical control of movement (Miller), spinal mechanisms underlying movement synergies (Tresch), spinal reflex control (Heckman), and motoneuron behavior (Heckman. Human quantitative research at Northwestern ranges from studying movement timing (MacKinnon), motor learning (Mussa-Ivaldi), man-robot interface (Peshkin and Colgate), reflex control (Perreault), joint afferent feedback (Dhaher, Rymer), cortical control of synergies (Dewald, Parrish), posture and balance (Makhsous, Brown) and vestibular control (Hain). Neuromechanical integration between sensory and motor systems is studied at a fundamental level in animal models (Hartmann, MacIver). Many of these investigators collaborate with investigators and clinicians working in the area of movement disorders or perform work in both areas concurrently in their individual laboratories.
  2. Neurobiology of movement disorders
  3. Rehabilitation robotics
  4. Sensory-motor neural machine interfaces (NMI)

Colleagues from Physiology, BME, PTHMS and PM&R are working on various types of NMIs. Basic work on implantable cortical arrays for the control of neuroprostheses (systems that utilize electrical activation of nervous tissue to restore function in disabled individuals) is being implemented in animal models (Miller, Mussa-Ivaldi, Perreault). In human laboratories brain machine interfaces (BCI) are being developed using high-density surface EEG or subcutaneous and cortical surface arrays for the control of neuroprostheses in stroke survivors (Dewald, Rosenow, Schuele). Signals obtained from these recording approaches will be subjected to feature extraction approaches and classification algorithms to estimate movement intent in disabled individuals. Another novel and exciting area of NMI that is being implemented at Northwestern University is targeted reinnervation (TR) techniques in individuals with upper extremity amputations (Kuiken, Weir). The TR approach entails taking nerves originally destined for an amputated upper limb and surgically redirecting them to instead innervate chest muscle. The new control signals derived from the reinnervated muscles can then be used to control a multi-degreeof freedom myoelectric arm. Since the nerves that are being used for the TR are those that controlled hand/elbow function before the amputation, subjects can more readily learn to control their new myoelectric limb (Kuiken, Weir). In addition to regaining motor control signals, sensory reinnervation has also been observed in individuals that underwent TR. Thus, touching the chest gave the amputee subject the sensation that the amputated limb was being touched. This exciting finding will allow for the future implementation of neural machine interfaces that incorporate sensory feedback and require novel rehabilitation approaches for subjects to relearn the control of their multi-degree of freedom myoelectric limbs.


Dewald, Julius, PhD

Associate Director:

Heckman, Charles, PhD

Steering Committee:

Brown, David, PT, PhD
Dewald, Julius, PT, PhD
Heckman, CJ, PhD
Kuiken, Todd, MD, PhD
MacKinnon, Colum, PhD
Tresch, Matthew, PhD

View list of all Faculty Profiles associated this grant


Brown, David, PT, PhD Kuiken, Todd, MD, PhD Perreault, Eric, PhD
Colgate, James, PhD Lynch, Kevin, PhD Peshkin, Michael, PhD
Dewald, Julius, PhD MacIver, Malcolm, PhD Rosenow, Joshua, MD
Dhaher, Yasin, PhD MacKinnon, Colum, PhD Rymer, William, MD, PhD
Gaebler-Spira, Deborah Makhsous, Mohsen, PhD Schuele, Stephan, MD, MPH
Gard, Steven, PhD Miller, Lee, PhD Simuni, Tanya, MD
Hain, Timothy, MD Murphey, Todd, PhD Tresch, Matthew, PhD
Harden, Robert, MD Murray, Wendy, PhD Weir, Richard, PhD
Hartmann, Mitra, PhD Mussa-Ivaldi, Ferdinando, PhD Zhang, Li-Qun, PhD
Heckman, Charles, PhD Parrish, Todd, PhD
Kording, Konrad, PhD


Predoctoral Trainees:

Chris Bresee (Advisor: Mitra Hartmann, PhD)
Jordan Manes (Advisor: Daniel Corcos, PhD)
Andrew Smith (Advisor: James Elliott, PT, PhD)
Andrew Tan (Advisor: Yasin Dhaher, PhD)

Affiliate Trainees:

Theeradej Thaweerattanasinp (Advisor: CJ Heckman, PhD)
Ben Yang (Advisor: D. James Surmeier, PhD)

For more information, contact Dr. Jules Dewald: