UW-Madison Department of Kinesiology - Motor Control and Behavior

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Main Office

School of Education
Unit II Gym
2000 Observatory Dr.
MadisonWI  53706-1121

Tel: 608/262-0259
Fax: 608/262-1656

Email: kines@education.wisc.edu
or by contact form

Motor Control and Behavior

Graduate Advisors: Andrea Mason, Ph.D.; Peter L.E. van Kan, Ph.D.

Synopsis: The graduate program in Motor Control and Behavior involves advanced study of the psychological and neurophysiological foundations of motor control, motor learning, motor development, and disorders of movement. The program emphasizes the development of a competent independent researcher and is designed to provide a thorough grounding in the area of motor performance, exposing the student to the underlying theoretical processes that influence the control, acquisition, and development of motor behavior. Students may focus specifically on control, learning, or developmental issues, or design their program to expose them to a broad range of study in motor behavior. The graduate student will work closely with his/her advisor in both formal and informal educational settings.

Laboratory Facilities and Experimental Approaches: Several laboratories (human, animal) are available for research in the area of Motor Control and Behavior. The Motor Behavior Complex in Unit II Gymnasium is a two-story multi-user instructional/research space for the areas of Biomechanics, Motor Development, Motor Control and Learning and Movement Disorders. The first floor Biomechanics Laboratory is set up and fully equipped for on-line analysis of kinematic, kinetic and electromyographic (EMG) activity associated with human movement, particularly gait and posture. The Motor Control Laboratory in Unit II Gymnasium is primarily designed for research focusing on human upper limb movement control. Research methods include the kinematic, kinetic and electromyographic (EMG) analysis of unimanual and bimanual movements, with special emphasis on associated movement, distal force regulation and visuo-motor tracking in normal and neurologically-impaired populations. The Motor Systems Physiology Laboratory in the Medical Science Center is available for study of the circuits and basic neural mechanisms involved in the guidance and control of voluntary limb movements in animals. 

Routinely used research methods include

  • recording signals transmitted along neuroanatomically defined pathways in behaving monkeys and cats using microelectrodes
  • studying behavioral deficits resulting from reversible inactivation of specific cell groups
  • defining relevant neural pathways using contemporary neuroanatomical techniques

Purpose of MS: The Master's degree with a specialization in Motor Control and Behavior is designed toward

  • introducing the beginning graduate student to the field of Motor Control and Behavior including the areas of the neural control of movement, motor learning, and motor development
  • preparing students for advanced Ph.D. level work

Purpose of Ph.D.: Those students entering the Ph.D. program should have a commitment to research in the motor control and behavior area. Within the first year, the graduate student is usually conducting research under close supervision. Students are encouraged to begin research early and to engage in it throughout their graduate career.

Prerequisites for admission to Motor Control & Behavior track, MS and PhD

Course Requirements, MS & PhD, in Motor Control & Behavior track of Kinesiology

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