Sensorimotor Learning Laboratory

Physical Therapy Sensorimotor Learning Lab

Research Interests

How the sensorimotor cortices of children and adults with neurologic impairments reach a decision threshold, integrate sensory feedback and learn to produce a motor action.


Director: Max Kurz, Ph.D.
Professional Research Assistant: David Arpin, PhD
Project Manager: Kristin Malone, BS, CCRP
Graduate Students (2017): Jamie Gehringer, BS; Rashelle Hoffman, DPT; Min Liu, BS; Jacy Vermaas, MA, OTR/L, BCP
Undergraduate Student (2017): Michael Trevarrow
Alumni: Chris Arellano, PhD (University of Houston), Brenda Davies, PhD (Post-doc, Mayo Clinic), Melissa Scott-Pandorf, PhD (Wyle Laboratories, NASA), Swati Surkar, PhD (Post-doc, Washington University in Saint Louis)

PT Graduate Students 2016

Back Row (L/R): Dr. Kurz, David Arpin, Jamie Gehringer, Mike Trevarrow
Front Row: Rashelle Hoffman, Swati Surkar, Jacy Vermaas

Current Research Projects

  1. How the beta and gamma sensorimotor cortical oscillations are modulated by intensively practicing a motor task.
  2. How the activity within the somatosensory cortices influences the sensorimotor integration processes that are necessary for learning a motor task.
  3. Exploration of the relationships between the extent of activation within the sensorimotor cortices and the fidelity of fibers in the thalamocortical and corticospinal tracts.
  4. Mobile brain imaging and the role of the sensorimotor cortices for gait adaptability.
  5. Influence of different physical therapy treatment paradigms on the mobility, standing postural balance and neuroplasticity. 


National Institutes of Health 1R01HD086245-01

Research Methodology

Magnetoencephalography (MEG), Biomechanical Engineering, Electroencephalography (EEG), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS)

Physical Therapy Lab

Recent Publications

Wiesman AI, Heinrichs-Graham E, Coolidge NM, Gehringer JE, Kurz MJ, Wilson TW (2017). Oscillatory dynamics and functional connectivity during gating of primary somatosensory responses. Journal of Physiology, in press.

Hegarty AK, Petrella AJ, Kurz MJ, Silverman AK (2017). Evaluating the effects of ankle foot orthosis mechanical property assumptions on gait simulation muscle force results. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, in press.

Kurz MJ, Proskovec AL, Gehringer JE, Becker KM, Arpin DJ, Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW (2016). Developmental Trajectory of Beta Cortical Oscillatory Activity During a Knee Motor Task. Brain Topography, 29(6):824-833.

Davies BL, Hoffman RM, Healey Z, Zabad R, Kurz MJ (2016). Errors in the ankle plantarflexor force production are related to the gait deficits of individuals with multiple sclerosis. Human Movement Science, 51:91-98.

Davies BL, Hoffman RM, Kurz MJ (2016). Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis Redistribute Positive Mechanical Work from the Ankle to the Hip during Walking, Gait and Posture, 49:329-333.

Davies BL, Arpin DJ, Liu M, Reelfs H, Volkman KG, Healey K, Zabad R, Kurz MJ (2016). Two Different Types of High-frequency Physical Therapy Promote Improvements in the Balance and Mobility of Persons with Multiple Sclerosis. Archive of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 97(12):2095-2101.

Hegarty AK, Kurz MJ, Stuberg W, Silverman AK (2016). Changes in Mobility and Muscle Function of Children with Cerebral Palsy After Gait Training: A Pilot Study. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 32(5):469-486.

Arpin DJ, Davies BL, Kurz MJ (2016). Multiple sclerosis influences the precision of the ankle plantarflexon muscular force production. Gait Posture, 45:170-4.

Kurz MJ, Becker KM, Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW (2015). Children with cerebral palsy have uncharacteristic somatosensory cortical oscillations after stimulation of the hand mechanoreceptors. Neuroscience 305:67-75.

Davies BL, Arpin DJ, Volkman KG, Corr B, Reelfs H, Harbourne RT, Healey K, Zabad R, Kurz MJ (2015). Neurorehabilitation strategies focusing on ankle control improve mobility and posture in persons with multiple sclerosis. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy 39(4):225-232.

Kurz MJ, Heinrichs-Graham E, Becker KM, Wilson TW (2015). The magnitude of the somatosensory cortical activity is related to the mobility and strength impairments seen in children with cerebral palsy. Journal of Neurophysiology 113(9):3143-50.

Davies BL, Gehringer JE, Kurz MJ (2015). Age-related differences in the motor planning of a lower leg target matching task. Human Movement Science 44:299-306.

Kurz MJ, Becker KM, Heinrichs-Graham E, Wilson TW (2014). Neurophysiological abnormalities in the sensorimotor cortices during the motor planning and movement execution stages of children with cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 56(11):1072-7.

Kurz MJ, Heindrichs-Graham E, Arpin DJ, Becker KM, Wilson TW (2014). Aberrant synchrony in the somatosensory cortices predicts motor performance errors in children with cerebral palsy. Journal of Neurophysiology 111(3):573-9.

Kurz MJ, Wilson TW, Arpin DJ (2014). An fNIRS exploratory investigation of the cortical activity during gait in children with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy. Brain & Development 36(10):870-7.

Harbourne R, Becker K, Arpin DJ, Wilson TW, Kurz MJ (2014). Improving the motor skills of children with posterior fossa syndrome: a case series. Pediatric Physical Therapy 26(4):462-8.

Kurz MJ, Reelfs H (2014). Taking steps towards improving the mobility of children with cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 56(12):1137-8.

Heinrichs-Graham E, Kurz MJ, Becker KM, Santamaria PM, Gendelman HE, Wilson TW (2014). Hypersynchrony despite pathologically reduced beta oscillations in patients with Parkinson’s disease a pharmaco-magnetoencephalographic study. Journal of Neurophysiology 112(7):1739-47.

Wilson TW, Kurz MJ, Arpin DJ (2014). Functional specialization within the supplementary motor area: a fNIRS study of bimanual coordination. NeuroImage 85(1):445-450.

Arpin DJ, Stuberg W, Stergiou N, Kurz MJ (2013). Motor control of the lower extremity musculature in children with cerebral palsy. Research in Developmental Disabilities 34(4):1134-43.

Davies BL, Kurz MJ (2013). Children with cerebral palsy have greater stochastic features present in the variability of their gait kinematics. Research in Developmental Disabilities 34(11):3648-3653.

Kurz MJ, Arpin DJ, Davies BL, Harbourne R (2013). The stochastic component of the postural sway variability is higher in children with balance impairments. Annals of Biomedical Engineering 41(8):1703-12.

Kurz MJ, Stuberg W, DeJong S, Arpin DJ (2013). Overground body-weight-supported gait training for children and youth with neuromuscular impairments. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics 33(3):353-65.

Kurz MJ, Wilson TW, Arpin DJ (2012). Stride-time variability and sensorimotor cortical activation during walking. NeuroImage 59(2):1602-1607.