Category Archives: Human Sensorimotor Control Lab

Konczak gives invited presentation at European workshop

On October 10, Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, presented a lecture on robotic rehabilitation to the PACE network community in Genova, Italy.

PACE stands for Perception and Action in Complex Environments. The network is funded by the European Union and seeks to train predoctoral students with a background in engineering, mathematics, neuroscience, and psychology.

 

Mahnan featured in Global Programs and Strategy Alliance’s “Global U”

Arash Mahnan, Kinesiology Ph.D. student and IT Fellow, is one of three people featured in the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance online newsletter, Global U, promoting Driven: The University of Minnesota Campaign, the first system-wide fundraising campaign at the U of M in more than a decade. The Alliance has set a goal of raising $7 million to “Drive a Global U.”

Mahnan discusses his goal to fill the gap between engineering and clinical research, and the imperative to attract top students and faculty from around the world to come to the University of Minnesota. He is a student in the area of biomechanics and neural control and is advised by Juergen Konczak, Ph.D.

Read Mahnan’s feature here.

 

 

Konczak lab receives NSF I-corps award

Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, is the PI on a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps program.

This program prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the university laboratory and to accelerate basic-research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization. The aim of this grant is to move forward the lab’s robotic rehabilitation technology that is jointly developed with partners in Italy and Singapore. As part of this grant, a team consisting of postdoctoral researcher Naveen Elangovan (entrepreneurial lead), Jürgen Konczak and Pat Tarnowski as a business adviser is formed. Pat is a trained PT with an MBA and is currently the Senior Director of Clinical Health Solutions at BCBS of Minnesota. The team will work closely with NSF staff and advisers to explore and understand the U.S. market.

Konczak is senior personnel on $2.9 million NSF grant

Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, is serving as senior personnel on a nearly $3 million training grant awarded by the National Science Foundation to develop and implement bold new graduate education in the STEM fields.

The award for the project, “Graduate Training Program in Sensory Science: Optimizing the Information Available for Mind and Brain,” was granted jointly to the Center for Cognitive Sciences and the Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Sciences. The grant will enable the centers’ teams to initiate a new interdisciplinary graduate training program that unites a fundamental understanding of basic sensory science (vision, audition, motor control, speech and language) with deep technical expertise in engineering, computer science, and other related fields. The project will explore the development of effective assistive technologies for people with sensory deficits that have a major impact on an individual’s quality of life.

Konczak is a member of the faculty of the Center for Cognitive Sciences and director of the Center for Clinical Movement Science. Colleges providing support on the grant are the College of Education and Human Development, College of Liberal Arts, and College of Science and Engineering. More information about the award is available here.

Kinesiology doctoral student Arash Mahnan appointed to U’s Senate Information Technologies Committee

Arash Mahnan, Kinesiology Ph.D. student in Movement Science, has been appointed to the University’s Senate Information Technologies Committee (SITC). The committee represents the institution’s faculty, academic professional, civil service and student interests in the development, implementation, and distribution of information technologies at the U. The committee reports to the Senate and makes recommendations concerning policies and administration around information technologies.

The committee meets monthly and consists of eight faculty, four P&A, three students, and one civil service representative. The students include Mahnan, a representative from the Department of Engineering and one from the College of Continuing Education. The student representatives were chosen based on their background, experience and qualifications in the field of information technology. Mahnan will serve a two-year term on the committee.

Konczak presents at International Conference of Robotic Rehabilitation in London

 Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, gave an invited presentation at a workshop at the 15th International Conference of Robotic Rehabilitation (ICORR) at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, UK. The conference was a part of the London Rehab Week, where around a thousand attendees discussed the newest trends in neurorehabilitation. Konczak presented an overview on the current state of how robotic medical devices can be used to diagnose sensory and motor deficits of neurological diseases.

 

 

Konczak gives invited presentation at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

As part of a two-day visit to Budapest, Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, presented his work on robotic rehabilitation to members of the Wigner Research Centre for Physics at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and toured a new rehabilitation clinic.

His Hungarian hosts comprised researchers with backgrounds in mathematics, physics, and cognitive neuroscience with an interest in modeling human movement and translating this knowledge to help patients with spinal cord injuries to regain function. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia) is the most important and prestigious academic society of Hungary. Its main responsibilities are the cultivation of science, dissemination of scientific findings, supporting research and development and representing Hungarian science domestically and around the world.

Three Kinesiology faculty give lectures on exercise and healthy aging in Chinese cities in June

School of Kinesiology professors Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., Li Li Ji, Ph.D., and Michael Wade, Ph.D.,  gave invited lectures at one international conference and three Chinese universities  from June 9 through June 15. Their talks centered broadly around a theme of exercise and healthy aging, and how age-related changes in older adults affect balance and posture.

Dr. Wade and Dr. Konczak first gave two keynote addresses at the China Preschool Children Health Conference held in Suzhou, a fast-growing modern city outside Shanghai. They then visited Shanxi University in Taiyuan, the capital city in Shanxi province in northwestern China with 4.2 million people. Next they traveled by high-speed rail to Tianjin, where they presented at Tianjin Sport University, a long-time partner of the School of Kinesiology. Their final lecture was at Hebei University in Shijiazhuan, where the first modern higher education institution in China was founded in 1895.

 

 

 

 

Konczak and Wade give invited talks at child health development conference in China

Kinesiology professors Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., and Michael Wade, Ph.D.,  addressed over 700 attendees of the Suzhou International Conference on Child Health Development. The conference centered around themes of how early childhood education best promotes cognitive, social, sensory and motor development. Suzhou is a city of about 10.5 million people in southeastern China. Kinesiology professor Li Li Ji, Ph.D., also attended the conference.
Dr. Wade
Dr. Ji and Dr. Konczak

Dahia Barr-Anderson and Sanaz Khosravani receive 2017 Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle awards

Dr. Barr-Anderson
Ms. Khosravani

A faculty member and doctoral student in the School of Kinesiology have been selected to receive awards from the College of Education and Human Development’s Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle (WPLC).

Dahia Barr-Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School, has received the Rising Star Faculty Award of $1,500 to use for professional development.  She joins an elite group of CEHD female faculty members in the college who have received this prestigious award.

Sanaz Khosravani, a Kinesiology doctoral student in the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, will receive a $1,400 Graduate Student Ph.D. award based on the review committee’s assessment of her “academic achievements, community involvement, leadership, and passion for her academic and professional career.”

The awards will be conferred at the WPLC’s annual celebration on Tuesday, June 13, at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul.

Konczak gives invited presentation at Neural Control of Movement meeting in Dublin

Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, spoke to an audience of about 150 international neuroscientists at the 27th annual meeting of the Society for Neural Control of Movement in Dublin, Ireland.

Konczak provided an overview of his lab’s research on somatosensory deficits in Parkinson’s disease and dystonia and outlined how these sensory impairments may cause the motor deficits seen in the neurological diseases. He also presented recent work led by Dr. Naveen Elangovan, postdoctoral researcher in the lab, that showed that Parkinsonian symptoms can be improved through a specialized sensory training.

Konczak gives keynote at Center for Clinical and Translational Science at U of Kentucky

School of Kinesiology professor Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.,  gave a keynote address last Thursday, March 30, at the 12th Annual Spring Conference of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Kentucky. The conference had approximately 900 attendees, mostly from the medical and engineering sciences, as well as practitioners from across the state. Konczak spoke on robotic rehabilitation and their impact for future neurorehabilitation therapies and diagnostics.

HSCL members share hands-on science with students and families at Hmong International Academy

Jessica Holst-Wolf and Arash Mahnan

Members of the Human Sensorimotor Control Lab (HSCL) in the School of Kinesiology attended the Hmong International Academy for a community outreach event last Thursday evening, March 30. The Academy, a culturally specific school for children Pre-K through Grade 8, asked several departments at the U of M to attend Family Fun Night to share information about their work and research for families and their children who attend the school.

Kinesiology doctoral students Jessica Holst-Wolf, Arash Mahnan and I-Ling Yeh set up three mini-stations demonstrating EMG (electromyography) technology, postural control, and how to measure haptic sensitivity, or sense of touch, and provided general information about kinesiology and movement science. HSCL lab director is Kinesiology professor Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.

HSCL colleagues’ article listed as one of most influential papers of 2016 by Veterinary Clinics: Equine Practice

The journal Veterinary Clinics: Equine Practice has published a summary of the most influential papers in equine medicine for 2016. One of these is by Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory (HSCL) colleagues in collaboration with a group of equine veterinarians from the University of Minnesota/Michigan State University. The paper is entitled “The Equine Movement Disorder “Shivers” Is Associated with Selective Cerebellar Purkinje Cell Axonal Degeneration.”

Valberg SJ, Lewis SS, Shivers JL, Barnes NE, Konczak J, Draper AC, Armién AG. Vet Pathol. 2015 Nov;52(6):1087-98. doi: 10.1177/0300985815571668

HSC lab publishes on exercise and brain dysfunction

Y-Ting Tseng, Sanaz Khosravani, and Arash Mahnan, all graduate students in the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory (HSCL), together with their adviser Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., professor and lab director, published in the journal Kinesiology Review. Their review titled “Exercise as Medicine for the Treatment of Brain Dysfunction: Evidence for Cortical Stroke, Cerebellar Ataxia, and Parkinson’s Disease” addresses the role of exercise as an intervention for treating neurological disease. It focuses on three major neurological diseases that either present in acute or neurodegenerative forms—Parkinson’s disease, cerebellar ataxia, and cortical stroke.

The paper is part of a series of invited papers from the National Academy of Kinesiology that appear in Kinesiology Review. Maureen Weiss, Ph.D. serves as the current editor of the journal.

Konczak publishes in Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation

Konczak-2012Together with colleagues from Italy and Singapore, Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Lab,  published a paper that presents a new method to measure proprioception in children. Francesca Marini, a doctoral student at the Italian Institute of Technology, is the first author of the article, “Robot-aided developmental assessment of wrist proprioception in children.

Neurodevelopmental disorders and brain injuries in children have been associated with proprioceptive dysfunctions that will negatively affect their movements. Unfortunately, the knowledge of how proprioception evolves in typically developing children is still sparse due to the lack of reliable clinical examination protocols.

Konczak receives Visiting Professorship Award from Technical University of Munich

konczak-2012Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology, has received an appointment as 2017 Visiting Professor at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). TUM is one of Germany’s premier science institutions, comparable in scope to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. The TUM visiting professorship is awarded to scientists with an outstanding international reputation to promote intensive collaborations with TUM researchers.

As part of the professorship, Konczak will join the prestigious TUM Institute of Advanced Studies as an Honorary Fellow and is expected to give lectures to students, faculty and the university community. In addition, he will join the research team of Dr. Hermsdörfer in TUM’s Department of Movement and Health Sciences. The award provides the funds for Dr. Konczak’s stay in Munich and he will join the TUM faculty during the summer months in 2017.

Wilson Sporting Goods announces new high performance tennis racket tested in HSC lab

Global sporting goods manufacturer Wilson Sporting Goods Company introduced a new line of high-technology performance tennis rackets that were field-tested in the School of Kinesiology’s Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory (HSCL) directed by Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D. The participants were experts recruited from the U of M varsity tennis men’s and women’s teams, and testing took place at the U of M Tennis Center.

UofM Varsity tennis player during data collection.
U of M varsity tennis player monitored by HSCL.

In tennis, the ball hitting the racket during tennis strokes induces a vibration of the racket frame, which transfers to the arm of the players. High vibration transfer may cause discomfort, induce earlier onset of fatigue and, with repeated exposure, increases injury risk. A racket design that can effectively reduce vibration transfer from the racket to the player’s arm should mitigate these negative vibration effects and aid to stabilize or improve a player’s performance.

Thus Wilson used Countervail technology, a one-of-a-kind layered carbon fiber that was originally designed for the aerospace industry to dissipate vibrational energy in airplanes. Strategic amounts of this material were incorporated into their new Blade performance tennis racket. HSCL measured the vibration in the rackets and determined how much these vibrations transferred to the arm, then compared the vibration behavior of this new design to another commercially available racket. In addition, the electrical signals from several  arm muscles  were recorded during the play to obtain electrophysiological markers of muscle fatigue.

A main finding of the study is that the new Countervail technology effectively reduces the vibration at the racket, which potentially can help players play longer while maintaining the precision of their strokes.

Read about the announcement on the 10sBalls.com blog.

HSCL Tennis Racquet Study – 20161209 from CEHD Academics on Vimeo.

Konczak gives talk at Graduate Program in Neuroscience Colloquium

konczak-2012On November 30, Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology, delivered a lecture at the Graduate Program in Neuroscience Colloquium Series in the U of M’s Department of Neuroscience. His talk, titled “Somatosensory Plasticity in Human Motor Learning,” reviewed recent research on the neural changes that occur during sensorimotor learning.

The weekly colloquium is sponsored by the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and features external and internal speakers who are experts across the spectrum of neuroscience.

Konczak presents at National Academy of Kinesiology annual meeting

nak_logo_bannerAt the annual meeting of the National Academy of Kinesiology (NAK) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 6-8, Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology, gave an invited presentation on the topic of exercise and brain dysfunction.

The talk summarized current research on the benefits of exercise for treating neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, cerebellar ataxia and stroke.