MRRI Receives $2.99 Million Award from NIH for Stroke Research

Laurel J. Buxbaum, PsyD

A research team led by Laurel Buxbaum, PsyD, associate director of Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI), has received a 5 year, $2.99 million funding award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how the brain and mind organize actions for object use, and how this organization may be disrupted by stroke.

Dr. Buxbaum’s laboratory at MRRI has been studying object use for more than 20 years, and recently published the largest research study on apraxia and the particular brain lesions that cause object use disorder in stroke. Apraxia is associated with difficulties performing everyday tasks such as meal preparation and grooming, and is among the leading causes of disability in stroke, yet remains poorly understood. The research of Dr. Buxbaum and colleagues has shown that particular areas on the left side of the brain store memories of familiar object actions.

“With this new grant we will go beyond studying the areas of the brain that store object knowledge, and begin to assess how object knowledge that is relevant to the task at hand may be accessed at an appropriate time,” said Dr. Buxbaum. “We will also learn how abnormal patterns in the access to object knowledge may be associated with disability in stroke patients with apraxia”.

Dr. Buxbaum and her colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institutes of Health will use a variety of techniques to answer these and other questions, including studies of how the network of connections between different brain regions may be disrupted in apraxia, and how new object use actions are learned over repeated experiences with objects.

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