Leigh Ann Mrotek, PhD
Credentials: Institute of Clinical and Translational Research
(School of Medicine and Public Health)
Position title: Clinical Trials Navigator
Phone: (608) 263-1340
B.S. 1997, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
M.S. 2000, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PhD 2005, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Dr. Mrotek’s research agenda was born in athletic experiences. There are extensive examples of athletes making amazing corrections during incredibly complex movements. Often spectators are in awe of the athlete’s physical abilities, but what they should admire is the athlete’s brain. Even in everyday situations the human brain can complete thousands of computations in just a fraction of a second in order to alter movement. For example, if you slip on the ice but you catch your balance before a fall, your brain had to change many of the body’s movements to avoid crashing to the ground. In this example the brain made computations in order to control the movements of a very complex system, the human body. How can the body be controlled so deftly and precisely?
To attempt to answer this complex question, Dr. Mrotek’s laboratory studies the abilities of humans to detect and correct errors during complex movements involving hand-eye coordination. Specifically, she studies how we use information regarding target motion in the visual field to plan tracking and interception movements using the hand. Furthermore, she studies the information utilized during these movements to make online corrections in the movements. As humans, we make and adjust our movements smoothly and efficiently depending on what is happening in the environment on an instant by instant basis, and we make these alterations without having to consciously develop a change in the movement plan. These abilities are poorly understood. With greater understanding of these behaviors we will also have greater understanding of the human brain and may be able to solve some of the mysteries of neural diseases.
PubMed Listing of Publications