Research areas

Motor control and learning

Dr Joe Galea

We are broadly interested in motor control and learning. We use behavioural, non-invasive stimulation, brain imaging, genetics and pharmacology techniques to better understand how our brain controls and learns movements in health and disease.  

More about Joe's lab


  • Postdoctoral Fellow: Xuili Chen
  • PhD student: Roya Jalali (co-supervision with Chris Miall) 


  • KINARM robotic device
  • Polhemus motion capturing equipment
  • Neuroconn transcranial direct stimulation 

Recent publications

Tomassini A, Ruge D, Galea J.M, Penny W, Bestmann S. The role of dopamine in temporal uncertainty. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (epub). 2015

Galea J.M, Mallia E, Rothwell JC, Diedrichsen J. The dissociable effects of punishment and reward on motor learning. Nature Neuroscience 18(4): 597-602. 2015 

Hamada M, Galea J.M, Lazzaro V, Mazzone M, Ziemann U, Rothwell JC. The role of two separate motor cortex interneuron circuits in different forms of human physiological and behavioural plasticity. Journal of Neuroscience 34(38):12837-49. 2014

Visit the Galea Lab website


Predictive processes in the human motor system

Professor Chris Miall (Prism Lab)

We are working on questions of sensory-motor control, motor learning, coordination and motor cognition. The main thrust of our work is to look at the role of predictive processes in the human motor system.

More about the Prism Lab


  • Postdoctoral fellows: Orna Rosenthal, Angel Lago-Rodrigues, Antonios Christou
  • PhD students: Roya Jalali (co-supervision with Joe Galea), Nick Kitchen, Mike Gilbert
  • Lab manager: Jonathan Winter 


  • Image analysis workstations
  • Visuo-motor tracking station (computer based, with joystick or 1- or 2-D motion recording systems).
  • TMS station (Magstim 200 Rapid rTMS  with several different coils & head contraint).
  • Neuroconn transcranial direct stimulation
  • 2D and 3D Bimanual force controlled robot arm (Vbots from Wolpert lab)
  • Optotrak 3020 infra-red motion tracker
  • Polhemus Fastrak and Ascension Flock of Birds electromagnetic motion tracking
  • Eyetracking - ASL 501/504 head-mounted or remote high speed monocular systems, coupled with Ascension motion tracking systems for recording hand movement.
  • Skalar Iris infra-red reflectometry eyetracking (binocular 1-D high speed recording)
  • MR compatible Plato LCD goggles 

Recent publications:

Panouilleres M, Miall RC, Jenkinson N. The role of the posterior cerebellum in saccadic adaptation: a Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation study. J Neuroscience, 35: 5471-79. 2015 

Pope P, Brenton J, Miall RC. Task-specific facilitation of cognition by anodal transcranial direct current stimulation of the prefrontal cortex. Cerebral Cortex, (in press) 2015. 

Sami S, Robertson EM, Miall RC. The time course of task-specific memory consolidation effects in resting state networks. J Neuroscience, 34: 3982-9. 2014

Visit the PRISM Lab website

Sensory motor neuroscience

Professor Alan Wing (SyMoN Lab)

Studies of normal and special populations, including neurological patients with damage to the brain or the peripheral nervous system, are used to examine the sensory motor systems that allow people to act effectively on objects and the underlying neural representations of the static and dynamic properties of the environment. Many everyday tasks require cooperative actions between people. Recently we have been studying control of interpersonal collaboration in tasks including handing over objects between people, walking and talking together in a corridor and playing in a musical ensemble. In these examples we are using quantitative models to characterise sensory and motor factors in reactive and predictive adjustments in space and time.

More about the SyMoN Lab


  • Postdoctoral fellows: Winnie Chua, Roberta Roberts, Rachel Wright and Marek Sinason 
  • Postgraduate researchers: Deepa Barnabas, Emily Sumner, Dominic Ward, Diar Abdlkarim, Afia Masood
  • PhD student: Ben Crossey 


  • Motion capture (mocap in P&B, HULK and Kitchen Labs):  12-camera Oqus, 4-camera Oqus, Optotrak 4-camera mocap, Polhemus Liberty, Atracsys easytrack
  • Motion dynamics (force/pressure sensors in P&B and HULK labs):  2*6DOF 2 Bertec force platforms, 1 16foot Zeno gait mat, 6 ATI Nano17 6DOF force transducers, 3 ATI Nano43 6DOF force transducers, 6 Novatech 1DOF force sensors, 2 Novatech 2DOF force sensors 
  • Neurophysiology (in P&B): Biosemi EMG, GSR, heart rate, respiration modules
  • Haptics (robots in HULK lab): 3 Sensable phantoms

Recent publications:
Wing AM, Endo S, Bradbury A, Vorberg D. Optimal feedback correction in string quartet synchronization. J. R. Soc. Interface. 11:20131125. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2013.1125. 2014

Wing AM, Endo S, Yates T, Bradbury A. Perception of string quartet synchronization. Front. Psychol., doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01115. 2014. 

Pastorino M, Fioravanti A, Arredondo MT, Cogollor JM, Rojo J, Ferre M, Bienkiewicz M, Hermsdorfer J, Fringi E, Wing AM. Preliminary Evaluation of a Personal Healthcare System prototype for cognitive eRehabilitation in a living assistance domain. Sensors. 14: 10213–10233. 2014.

Visit the SyMoN Lab website

Action and social cognition

Dr Jennifer Cook 

We investigate action and social cognition in typically developed adults and those with autism spectrum conditions. With respect to action, we have shown that adults with autism move with subtly different kinematics compared to typical controls. They have demonstrated that these atypical kinematics can impact on the perception, categorisation and imitation of others' actions. With respect to social cognition, we have demonstrated considerable individual differences in social learning (the ability to learn new information from those around us) in the typical population. We have further shown that such individual differences are related to personality traits such as dominance. Our ongoing work investigates the contributions of neuromodulators such as dopamine and serotonin to individual differences in social learning. Our future work seeks to investigate the overlap between action, social cognition and neuromodulators in both in the typical population and in people with autism.

More about Jennifer's Lab


Cook, J.L., den Ouden, H., Heyes, C. & Cools, R. The social dominance paradox. Current Biology. 24(23):2812-6. 2014.

Cook, J.L., Swapp, D., Pan, X., Bianchi-Berthouze, N. & Blakemore, S-J. Atypical interference effect of action observation in autism spectrum conditions. Psychological Medicine. 44(4):731-40. 2014.

Cook, J. L., Blakemore, S-J. & Press, C. Atypical basic movement kinematics in autism spectrum conditions. Brain. 136(9):2816-24. 2013.

Multiobject environments and the visual system

Dr Dietmar Heinke

Interested in how the visual system guides reaching movements towards objects in multiobject environments. We explore this research question with a range of methods, such as behavioural experiment, transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS) and neurobiologically inspired robotics.

More about Dietmar's Lab


Strauss, S., Woodgate, P.J.W., Sami, S. A., & Heinke, D. Choice reaching with a LEGO arm robot (CoRLEGO): The motor system guides visual attention to movement-relevant information. Neural Networks (jn press). 2015. 

Woodgate, P.J.W., Strauss, S., Sami, S. A., & Heinke, D. Motor cortex guides selection of predictable movement targets. Behavioural Brain Research, 287, 238-246. 2015. 

Strauss, S. & Heinke, D. A robotics-based approach to modeling of choice reaching experiments on visual attention. Front. Psychology, 3:105. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00105. 2012.