Perceptual-Motor Control Laboratory

Director: Steven Jax, PhD


Throughout the day, each of us carries out a multitude of seemingly unremarkable actions such as reaching across one’s desk to pick up a calculator. The ease with which we complete this task obscures the complex interaction between cognitive, perceptual, and motor systems occurring largely outside of our awareness. For example, picking up the calculator requires that the brain:

  1. perceptually identify the location of the calculator as well as any potential obstacles that may be encountered along the arm’s movement path (such as a full coffee mug);
  2. produce a temporally synchronized pattern of muscle activations to move along that path, and;
  3. properly control, based on previous experience and sensory feedback, the force produced on the calculator so that it doesn’t slip out of the hand when lifted.

Our lab investigates a range of issues related to how these cognitive and perceptual processes affect movement production. Our research also strives to be clinically applicable by examining how and why perceptual-motor functions are disrupted following stroke, and how approaches to stroke rehabilitation might be improved.

Programs of Research
  • Home-based mirror therapy for post-stroke hemiparesis (with Laurel Buxbaum, PsyD, and H. Branch Coslett, MD)
  • Augmenting mirror therapy with non-invasive brain stimulation (with H. Branch Coslett, MD)
  • Tablet rehabilitation for post-stroke hemiparesis (with John Detre, MD)
  • The role of abstract kinematics in movement imitation (with Aaron Wong, PhD, John Krakauer, MD, PhD, and Laurel Buxbaum, PsyD)
  • Facilitating representations of tool use with transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) (with Laurel Buxbaum, PsyD)

Dr. Jax discusses the lab’s mirror therapy research:

Post-Doctoral Fellows:
Research Assistants:

Genevieve Curtis

Louisa Smith

Clinical-Research Associates:

Andy Packel

Megan McAndrew

Jaun May