2010 Calendar Showcases CHS Research, Academic Programs and Community Outreach

Dr. Wang (left) with a research subject in the Motor Control lab.
Dr. Wang (left) with a research subject in the Motor Control lab.

The new 2010 College of Health Sciences (CHS) calendar is available. Highlighting the variety of activities taking place at the College, it features a different faculty member or alumnus (and his or her story) each month.

CHS Dean Chukuka S. Enwemeka, Ph.D., FACSM, introduces the calendar and points out, “This year’s selection of stories shows our efforts to fulfill our mission to enhance and enrich the health of people everywhere, promote quality education, advance cutting-edge research programs and provide exceptional service.”

One such story, featuring CHS faculty member Jinsung Wang, appears on the July 2010 page.

The Brain: Understanding How to Control Movement

People usually think that they can perform most tasks with their dominant arm better than with their non-dominant arm. Is the non-dominant arm, then, better than the dominant arm for anything?

Jinsung Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor of the CHS Department of Human Movement Sciences, believes that it is. His research focuses on hemispheric lateralization of motor control and learning. This deals with the functional specialization of the brain, with some skills, as language, occurring primarily in the left hemisphere and others, as the perception of visual and spatial relationships, occurring primarily in the right hemisphere.

His findings indicate that the two hemisphere/limb systems in humans are specialized for controlling different features of movement. The dominant system, for example, is specialized for controlling the direction of either arm during reaching movement to follow a path pre-determined by the brain, whereas the non-dominant system is specialized for bringing the hand, or the fingers, to a specific target location presented at the end of the reaching movement.

In his Motor Control Laboratory he explores how movement information is stored in the brain when individuals learn a novel motor task, and how such information is transferred between the two brain hemispheres.

Volunteer subjects use the KinArm 2-D Movement Data Acquisition System, which consists of two exoskeletal robot arms that enable the subjects to perform visually guided reaching movements under novel sensorimotor environments.

By conducting these psychophysical experiments, he is able to examine the extent to which learning a motor task with one arm can facilitate subsequent performance with the other arm.

This information may prove helpful for clinical rehabilitation applications that deal with motor control and learning, especially in stroke survivors with hemiparesis, those with neuromotor disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, and other patients who must rely heavily upon the use of the non-dominant arm for previously dominant functions.

For a copy of the calendar, contact Cheri Dziekan Chapman at cheridc@uwm or 414-229-3225.

Related articles:

Research Kinesiology