Dr Joseph Galea PhD

Dr Joseph Galea

School of Psychology
Reader in Motor Neuroscience
Head of Research

Contact details

School of Psychology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Galea is broadly interested in motor control. This ranges from the neural correlates of motor learning to stroke rehabilitation. At present, he is particularly interested in how reward/punishment influences our actions and can be used to alter the speed at which our motor system learns or retains new movements.

Personal website: www.josephgalea.weebly.com


BSc, University of Birmingham
PhD, University of Birmingham


Dr Galea completed his PhD on bimanual coordination in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham with Professor Chris Miall. He subsequently worked at Johns Hopkins University as a research fellow where he investigated the neural correlates of motor learning with Dr Pablo Celnik. Following this, he moved to University College London as a senior research fellow with Professor John Rothwell and became interested in the motor deficits of Parkinson’s disease patients. Dr Galea took up an independent research fellow post at the University of Birmingham, funded by the ‘Birmingham Fellows’ scheme, before becoming a Senior Lecturer in 2016 and a Reader in 2020.

Postgraduate supervision

Potential postgraduate students should email me to discuss funding opportunities.


Research interests

Motor learning, Motor control, Brain stimulation, Brain imaging, Stroke rehabilitation, Genetics.  

Other activities

Early-career award from the British Association of Cognitive Neuroscience, 2018

Elected member of the Young Academy of Europe, 2016

Klein-Vogelbach prize for the research of human movement, 2012


Highlight publications

Codol, O, Holland, PJ, Manohar, SG & Galea, JM 2020, 'Reward-based improvements in motor control are driven by multiple error-reducing mechanisms', The Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 40, no. 18, pp. 3604-3620. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2646-19.2020

Chen, X, Voets, S, Jenkinson, N & Galea, J 2019, 'Dopamine-dependent loss aversion during effort-based decision-making', The Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 661-670. https://doi.org/10.1101/714840, https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1760-19.2019

Galea, J, Mallia, E, Rothwell, JC & Diedrichsen, J 2015, 'The dissociable effects of punishment and reward on motor learning', Nature Neuroscience, vol. 18, pp. 597-602. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3956

Galea, JM, Vazquez, A, Pasricha, N, de Xivry, J-JO & Celnik, P 2011, 'Dissociating the roles of the cerebellum and motor cortex during adaptive learning: the motor cortex retains what the cerebellum learns', Cerebral Cortex, vol. 21, no. 8, pp. 1761-70. https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhq246

Codol, O, Kashefi, M, Forgaard, CJ, Galea, JM, Pruszynski, JA & Gribble, PL 2023, 'Sensorimotor feedback loops are selectively sensitive to reward', eLife, vol. 12, e81325. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.81325

Recent publications


Hamel, R, Waltzing, BM, Hinder, MR, McAllister, C, Jenkinson, N & Galea, JM 2024, 'Bilateral intracortical inhibition during unilateral motor preparation and sequence learning', Brain stimulation, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 349-361. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2024.03.009

Abdlkarim, D, Di Luca, M, Aves, P, Maaroufi, M, Yeo, SH, Miall, RC, Holland, P & Galea, JM 2023, 'A methodological framework to assess the accuracy of virtual reality hand-tracking systems: A case study with the Meta Quest 2', Behavior Research Methods. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-022-02051-8

Weightman, M, Lalji, N, Lin, C-HS, Galea, J, Jenkinson, N & Miall, C 2023, 'Short duration event related cerebellar TDCS enhances visuomotor adaptation', Brain stimulation, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 431-441. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2023.01.1673

Hamel, R, Pearson, J, Sifi, L, Patel, D, Hinder, MR, Jenkinson, N & Galea, JM 2023, 'The intracortical excitability changes underlying the enhancing effects of rewards and punishments on motor performance', Brain stimulation, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 1462-1475. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brs.2023.09.022

Sporn, S, Chen, X & Galea, JM 2022, 'The dissociable effects of reward on sequential motor behavior', Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 128, no. 1, pp. 86-104. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00467.2021

Rybicki, AJ, Galea, JM, Schuster, BA, Hiles, C, Fabian, C & Cook, JL 2021, 'Intact predictive motor sequence learning in autism spectrum disorder', Scientific Reports, vol. 11, no. 1, 20693. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-00173-1

Codol, O, Galea, JM, Jalali, R & Holland, PJ 2020, 'Reward-driven enhancements in motor control are robust to TMS manipulation', Experimental Brain Research, vol. 238, no. 7-8, pp. 1781-1793. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-020-05802-1

Holland, P, Codol, O, Oxley, E, Taylor, M, Hamshere, E, Joseph, S, Huffer, L & Galea, J 2019, 'Domain-specific working memory, but not dopamine-related genetic variability, shapes reward-based motor learning: Mechanisms of reward-based motor learning', The Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 39, no. 47, pp. 9383-9396. https://doi.org/10.1101/524900, https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0583-19.2019

Chen, X, Rutledge, RB, Brown, HR, Dolan, RJ, Bestmann, S & Galea, JM 2018, 'Age-dependent Pavlovian biases influence motor decision-making', PLoS Computational Biology, vol. 14, no. 7, e1006304. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006304

Sadnicka, A, Galea, JM, Chen, J-C, Warner, TT, Bhatia, KP, Rothwell, JC & Edwards, MJ 2018, 'Delineating cerebellar mechanisms in DYT11 myoclonus-dystonia', Movement Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1002/mds.27517

Sadnicka, A, Stevenson, A, Bhatia, KP, Rothwell, JC, Edwards, MJ & Galea, J 2018, 'High motor variability in DYT1 dystonia is associated with impaired visuomotor adaptation', Scientific Reports, vol. 8, 3653. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-21545-0

Jalali, R, Chowdhury, A, Wilson, M, Miall, R & Galea, J 2018, 'Neural changes associated with cerebellar tDCS studied using MR spectroscopy', Experimental Brain Research, vol. 236, no. 4, pp. 997–1006. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-018-5170-1

Holland, PJ, Codol, O & Galea, JM 2018, 'The contribution of explicit processes to reinforcement-based motor learning', Journal of Neurophysiology. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00901.2017

Chen, X, Holland, P & Galea, J 2018, 'The effects of reward and punishment on motor skill learning', Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, vol. 20, pp. 83-88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2017.11.011

Codol, O, Holland, PJ & Galea, JM 2018, 'The relationship between reinforcement and explicit control during visuomotor adaptation', Scientific Reports, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 9121. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-27378-1

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