Congratulations to Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology, who received the Marty and Jack Rossmann Faculty Development Award at the College of Education and Human Development assembly on April 30. The Rossmann Award recognizes a tenured faculty member who has demonstrated a truly exceptional level of creativity and productivity in scholarship, teaching and service, and who shows great promise of continuing such achievement. Konzak has instituted and directs the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory (HSCL) as well as the Center for Clinical Movement Science (CCMS), an interdisciplinary unit across the University. His research, currently supported by grants from NIH and the NSF, focuses on the study of neurological movement disorders, motor learning after brain injury, and motor development in infancy and childhood and collaborates with, among others, the School of Nursing, School of Veterinary Medicine, College of Engineering as well as with international research centers, primarily in Italy and Singapore. Since joining the faculty in 1999 he has served in leading roles on several Graduate School and College committees and has been the Director of Graduate Studies for the School.
The Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory (HSCL) directed by Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology, recently published in the journal Neuroscience Letters. Yu-Ting Tseng, Ph.D. a former lab member of HSCL, is the primary author of the article. Their study, titled “Wrist position sense acuity and its relation to motor dysfunction in children with developmental coordination disorder” is about developmental coordination disorder and examined the relationship of wrist proprioceptive impairment with fine motor and balance function.
Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects about 6% of school-age children. It is characterized by uncoordinated movements and poor motor skill learning. DCD significantly interferes with a child’s activities of daily living and academic performance. It has long been assumed that impaired body awareness (proprioception) is compromised in children with DCD and that proprioceptive deficits underlie the motor problems in children. This is the second study in a series that objectively assessed proprioceptive status in children with DCD and documents that DCD is indeed associated with a proprioceptive dysfunction, which likely contributes to the motor problems in children with DCD.
Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the HSC Laboratory, presented at the Center for Cognitive Science (CCS) Colloquium/Perception Lunch Talks on Tuesday, March 27.
The title of Konczak’s talk was “Proprioception – the silent sense: What happens, if it is no longer there?” He illustrated what happens if someone experiences complete or partial loss of proprioception by referring to classic clinical studies and showing data from the lab’s work in patients with dystonia, Parkinson’s disease and cortical stroke.
Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory (HSCL), has published a paper with colleagues in Behavioural Brain Research. “Consolidation of human somatosensory memory during motor learning” is a collaboration with colleagues from the Italian Institute of Technology. Dr. Anna Vera Cuppone, first author, spent 9 months in HSCL as a visiting scholar, and the data were collected both at HSCL and in Italy.
The main idea behind the paper is to understand how memory is formed during motor learning. Researchers looked at a form of memory related to body awareness, i.e., “how it feels” when the body performs the newly acquired movement patterns. Research in the last years has recognized that such somatosensory and motor learning go hand-in-hand to form “motor memory.” Researchers show how training body awareness improves skill level. The impact of this work relates to neurorehabilitation, because people with stroke that affects the somatosensory cortex, i.e., the part of the brain involved with somatosensory learning, are the most difficult patients to recover. Sensory-based motor learning may help them to recover faster and more completely.
In an interdisciplinary collaboration with partners in veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota and the Michigan State University, researchers in the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory examined horses with shivers disease.
An earlier study identified the previously unknown neuropathology of the disease – a degeneration of neurons in the cerebellum. Because the cerebellum is involved in coordinating the control of muscles during movement, the researchers wanted to find out how the loss of cerebellar function affects the muscle recruitment in these horses. Like humans, horses activate more muscle fibers if they want to run faster. However, these horses recruited more muscles and more muscle fibers than necessary, which led to a loss of movement coordination and problems in their balance.
The results of this study, “Abnormal locomotor muscle recruitment activity is present in horses with shivering and Purkinje cell distal axonopathy,” are published in a paper that appears in Equine Veterinary Journal. Joshua Aman, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral researcher in the lab, is the first author of the paper. Other co-authors are current lab member Naveen Elangovan, Ph.D., and Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology.
Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, gave a lecture on “Somatosensory training to overcome motor dysfunction in dystonia and Parkinson’s disease” to the University of Minnesota ataxia research group. The ataxia group is an interdisciplinary group of basic science and clinical researchers interested in understanding the neuropathology of ataxia and its treatment. Dr. Konczak spoke about how a sensory-based rehabilitation training can improve motor function in focal dystonia and Parkinson’s disease.
Yu-Ting Tseng, Ph.D. (2017), former advisee of Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, is primary author on an article recently published in Journal of Motor Behavior. The article is titled “Position Sense Dysfunction Affects Proximal and Distal Arm Joints in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. ”
Co-authors are Chia-Liang Tsai (National Cheng Kung Univeristy, Taiwan,), Fu-Chen Chen (National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan), and Jürgen Konczak.
Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects up to 6% of all school-age children. Children with DCD have problems with coordinating movements, may have balance problems and show poor motor skill learning. This study assessed wrist joint position sense in a cohort of Taiwanese middle school children with DCD and related it to the observable motor deficits. Results document that children with DCD is associated with proprioceptive dysfunction of the wrist/hand complex, which likely contributes to the motor problems in children with DCD.
Yu-ting Tseng is currently a post-doc at the Division of Child Health Research, Institute of Population Health Sciences in the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) in Zhunan, Taiwan.
Naveen Elangovan, Ph.D., post-doctorate researcher the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory (HSCL), is the first author of an article titled “A robot-aided visuo-motor training that improves proprioception and spatial accuracy of untrained movement” that is published in The Nature Scientific Reports.
The study examined to what extent a sensory training of body leads to improvements in motor function. The study found that a short 45-min training is already sufficient to see changes in the accuracy of perceiving joint position and joint movement. This project was a collaboration with engineering colleagues at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore and Harvard University, USA. Co-authors are former HSCL member Joshua Aman, Ph.D. and lab director Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.
Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, is a co-author on an article recently published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. “Age-Related Decline of Wrist Position Sense and its Relationship to Specific Physical Training” examines the effects of aging on proprioception (a person’s perception of their limb and body positions necessary for motor control) by comparing wrist acuity in older and younger populations, and explores the effects of training or regular physical activity on preserved wrist proprioception.
Konczak’s former advisee Yu-Ting Tseng, Ph.D. (2017), is also an author on the article. She is currently a post-doc at the Division of Child Health Research, Institute of Population Health Sciences in the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) in Zhunan, Taiwan.
Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor in the School of Kinesiology is the principal investigator on an NIH funded grant program administered through the University’s Office of Discovery and Translation that seeks to promote new therapies for rare diseases. The project will design and build a device that will improve the symptoms of a voice disorder called spasmodic dysphonia (SD).
People with SD experience involuntary spasms of the laryngeal musculature that leads to a strained or choked speech. There is no cure for the disease and speech therapy is ineffective. The device will alter how it feels when one speaks. The idea behind the technology is that this sensory trick will help patients to improve their voice quality. The device development and its testing will be conducted in Konczak’s Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory.
Arash Mahnan, biomedical engineer and doctoral student in the HSC lab will serve as primary research assistant for this project.
Yu-Ting Tseng, Ph.D., 2017 graduate of the School of Kinesiology in the Biomechanics and Neuromotor Control emphasis, has been awarded a post-doc position in the Division of Child Health Research, Institute of Population Health Sciences in the National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) in Zhunan, Taiwan, starting in November. She will be conducting a study on the effect of different types of exercise intervention on the motor, cognitive and overall physical and mental functions in children and older adults. She may also assist in evaluating the status and needs for special needs populations.
Dr. Tseng was advised by Kinesiology professor Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D.
Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., professor and director of the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology, presented October 30 at the Academic Health Center’s Mini Medical School as part of their Fall 2017 series, “Medical Mysteries: Navigating Complex Health Cases.” His presentation with George S. Goding, Jr., M.D., professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, was titled “Finding a new treatment for the incurable voice disorder Spasmodic Dysphonia.” Konczak and Goding have been working with colleagues from Speech and Hearing Sciences and Engineering on a new treatment approach to improve the voice symptoms of patients with this voice disorder. Currently, there is no cure for the disease, though patients can get temporary relief through Botulinum toxin injections.
Comments from attendees after the presentation included:
This work gives me so much hope – what an interesting study!
Very interesting topic, more education on these topics is necessary so I am glad I was able to hear this presentation. Appreciated the presentation from both Dr’s because of the overlap!
Nicely simplified from complex information. Nice to hear U of M people are working together to make life better for those in need.
Loved the comment about calling around the U to find experts to help solve problems. There is so much happening at the U of M!!
Mini Medical School is a five-week program offered each semester that is designed to give individuals with a shared interest in health sciences the opportunity to examine the scientific foundations of health and disease presented by internationally renowned U of M experts who are shaping the way health care is delivered locally and globally.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.