The Human Brain Physiology and Stimulation Laboratory studies the mechanisms of motor learning and develops interventions to modulate motor function in humans. The goal is to understand how the central nervous system controls and learns to perform motor actions in healthy individuals and in patients with neurological diseases such as stroke. Using this knowledge, we aim to develop strategies to enhance motor function in neurological patients.
To accomplish these interests, we use different forms of non-invasive brain stimulation techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), as well as functional MRI and behavioral tasks.
The Laboratory for computational Motor Control studies movement control in humans, including healthy people and people with neurological diseases.
We use robotics, brain stimulation and neuroimaging to study brain function. Our long-term goals are to use mathematics to understand: 1) the basic function of the motor structures of the brain including the cerebellum, the basal ganglia and the motor cortex; and 2) the relationship between how our brain controls our movements and how it controls our decisions.
We investigate the brain networks and neurotransmitters involved in symptoms of movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, and the mechanisms by which modulating these networks through electrical stimulation affects these symptoms. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms through which neuromodulation therapies like deep brain stimulation affect non-motor brain functions, such as cognitive function and mood. We use imaging of specific neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and dopamine, to understand the changes in brain chemistry associated with the clinical effects of deep brain stimulation and to predict which patients are likely to have changes in non-motor symptoms following DBS. Through collaborations with our neurosurgery colleagues, we explore brain function by making recordings during DBS surgery during motor and non-motor tasks. Dr. Mills collaborates with researchers in the Department of Neurosurgery, the Division of Geriatric and Neuropsychiatry in the Depar...tment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and in the Division of Nuclear Medicine within the Department of Radiology to translate neuroimaging and neurophysiology findings into clinical applications.view more