Welcome to the Laboratory for Motor Learning and Neural Plasticity

The work in The Penhune Laboratory is focused on understanding plastic changes in the human brain related to motor learning and performance. My research program has three major axes. The first uses structural and functional MRI to examine the role of motor networks in learning and memory for fine motor skills. We are particularly interested in identifying brain regions involved in learning different movement parameters, and in auditory-motor integration and timing. The second axis of research comprises kinematic studies of motor skill learning using 3D motion capture that are aimed at identifying specific movement parameters related to movement timing and error correction. The third axis is focused on developmental studies of motor skill learning. This axis includes studies of children and older adults, as well as individuals with musical training. Current studies include behavioral and brain imaging studies aimed at identifying a possible sensitive period for musical training, as well as studies of movement imitation.

Current research projects include:

1. Exploring the role of motor cortex and cerebellum in different phases of learning
2. Testing the impact of early musical training on brain structure and function
3. Examining the relationship between motor imitation and motor learning
4. Studying developmental changes in motor learning and performance in children
5. Exploring the effects of aging on motor learning and kinematics (with Dr. K Li)
6. Examining the neural basis of auditory-motor integration (with Dr. R Zatorre)

Lab News

Virginia Penhune speaks with CBC, The Gazette, and Concordia Now

February, 2013

Following the recent publication of "Early Musical Training and White-Matter Plasticity in the Corpus Callosum", CBC, The Gazette, and Concordia Now have been speaking to Virginia Penhune about early musical training and its impact on brain development. Virginia's segment on CBC Radio One's Quirks and Quarks can be listened to online, and the original published article is available here.

Dilini Sumanapala speaks at TEDxYouth@Winchester in Dubai, UAE

January, 2013

Research Coordinator Dilini Sumanapala recently spoke to a youth audience about research in motor control and learning at an independently organized TEDx event in Dubai, UAE. Entitled "The Power of Ideas", the event covered a spectrum of subjects, from nested realities to artificial intelligence. Dilini's talk entitled "What if we could control the brain?" can be viewed on TED.com, or in the player above.

Lab alumnus Christopher Steele speaks to New Scientist

January, 2013

Former Penhune Lab graduate student, Christopher Steele shares his research with NewScientist on what it takes to excel in music, and how early training may be advantageous. The related article, published in Journal of Neuroscience, can be found here.