The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded Amy Bastian, Ph.D., PT, chief science officer and director of the Motion Analysis Lab at Kennedy Krieger Institute, with an eight-year, $4.7 million National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Research Program Award (N35) to support a study examining movement learning mechanisms and how this process is affected by brain damage.
The research will use home-based computer tasks and new, in-person laboratory tests of reaching and walking to generate high-resolution time courses for different components of childhood motor learning, and then determine how they are affected by neurological damage.
"Movement abilities affect a child's physical, social and emotional well-being, as well as their educational success--all of which can last a lifetime," said Bastian. "How children learn movement is a complex process that changes with development, experience and injury. It depends on a suite of interacting brain mechanisms that are driven by different signals (e.g. reward, error), have different learning rates, retention capacities, contextual dependencies and vulnerabilities to neurological damage. A key gap in human neuroscience is our limited understanding of this complex interplay and we hope that this research will give us more insight into that process."
Using the data, researchers will create a detailed timeline of movement learning capacity and the effects of disease as a function of age and developmental markers. The timeline and findings will allow neurologists to generate tailored therapeutic training strategies targeted to age, developmental maturity, gender, and disease state.
"Dr. Bastian is a premier neuroscientist who is known internationally for her innovative and groundbreaking research program," said Dr. Brad Schlaggar, president and CEO of Kennedy Krieger Institute. "This prestigious and highly competitive award from NINDS will yield significant advances which we are confident will translate to improved outcomes for children with neurological conditions."
The NINDS Research Program Award supports researchers whose record of achievement demonstrates his or her ability to make major contributions to neuroscience and gives them the freedom to embark on ambitious, creative, and/or longer-term research projects, without the constraints of specific aims.
About Kennedy Krieger Institute
Kennedy Krieger Institute, an internationally known, non-profit organization located in the greater Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region, transforms the lives of more than 25,000 individuals a year through inpatient and outpatient medical, behavioral health and wellness therapies, home and community services, school-based programs, training and education for professionals and advocacy. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children, adolescents and adults with diseases, disorders or injuries that impact the nervous system, ranging from mild to severe. The Institute is home to a team of investigators who contribute to the understanding of how disorders develop, while at the same time pioneer new interventions and methods of early diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Visit KennedyKrieger.org for more information about Kennedy Krieger.