This month, MRRI is excited to welcome a new postdoctoral fellow, Jonathan Wood, PhD. In his new role, Dr. Wood will be working with Aaron Wong, PhD, MRRI Institute Scientist and Director of the Cognitive-Motor Learning Laboratory.
Dr. Wood is a physical therapist. He earned both his bachelor’s degree and his Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. He spent two years practicing as an acute care clinician at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Jonathan then completed residency training in the Johns Hopkins and University of Delaware Neurologic Physical Therapy Program and subsequently received his Neurologic Clinical Specialist Certification. After about a year of practice in an outpatient neurologic rehabilitation clinic at Johns Hopkins, he entered the Biomechanics and Movement Sciences Program at the University of Delaware where he completed his Ph.D. under the advisement of Susanne Morton, PhD, and Hyosub Kim, PT, PhD.
In his prior research, Dr. Wood investigated the unique processes and factors that contribute to learning new gait patterns (i.e., locomotor learning). His dissertation work focused on two distinct learning processes, one driven by repetition and the other driven by reward. His work demonstrated that simply repeating a gait pattern impacts motor memories, and defined some of the key constraints that impact this repetition-based process. Reward is a critical learning signal, and his work demonstrated that it can be used to help individuals learn and remember new gait patterns. Aside from his dissertation work, Dr. Wood also developed a novel tool to assess lower limb position sense which he used to determine the role of proprioception in locomotor learning. He also investigated the specific learning processes that are damaged in individuals with stroke.
His research at MRRI will focus on motor learning and motor control in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that impacts several aspects of movement, from deciding where and how to move, to the actual execution of movement. He will use behavioral and computational approaches to determine the specific impairments caused by Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Wood’s long-term research objective is to improve neurologic rehabilitation practice by determining how neurologic conditions like Parkinson’s disease impact the learning and control of movements, and how these impairments can be counteracted.