Research Projects

Under the direction of Dr. Caviness, research in our lab focuses on three main areas related to the neurophysiology of movement and speech perception, with the hope of better understanding these disorders and leading to improvements in treatment options.

Electrophysiology of brain bank tissue

This research correlates pathology diagnosis and neuronal abnormalities with neurophysiology changes measured by electrophysiology methods. Movement disorders and cognitive status are the main subjects of this research.

Both normal controls and brain bank donors with neurodegenerative diseases — such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and atypical parkinsonian syndromes — undergo electroencephalography, surface electromyography and accelerometer recording. Offline analysis allows use of pattern definition, back-averaging, frequency analysis and other techniques. Routine pathology studies are performed on donor tissue. Tissue is also stored for other analyses.

Electrophysiology of the yips in golf

Some golfers report a tendency to lose control of their golf club when putting. This phenomenon has been termed the yips. In the golf community, having the yips was thought to represent anxiety or choking, but new research shows that's likely not the case.

In our research, surface electromyography electrodes and movement sensors monitor the yips during putting on the golf course. Offline analysis allows discrimination of physiology patterns. Some research evidence points to a coordination disorder or neurological disorder, possibly related to dystonia, as a cause of the yips.

Electroencephalography correlates of speech perception

The neuronal activation involved in speech perception isn't known. In our Movement Neurophysiology Lab, we're using high-density electroencephalography to study neuronal activity changes during various paradigms of speech perception. Brain mapping of this activity allows postulation of speech perception neuronal circuit processing.