Although we're just getting started, we plan to establish two main lines of research:
1. How REM sleep and twitches promote the emergence of cortically-mediated motor control.
2. How twitches and wake movements interact to promote motor learning and sensorimotor plasticity in adulthood.
Read more about these two lines of research below.
1. REM sleep and twitches promote the emergence of cortical motor control
Early in life, primary motor cortex (M1) doesn't produce movement. Instead, it responds to sensory feedback from movements produced in the brainstem, demonstrated by how the neural activity in M1 lags behind movement.
However, this lag decreases across early development until postnatal day 20, when M1 shows near perfect correspondence between movement and movement-related neural activity.
This sets the stage for M1-mediated motor control.
2. Twitches and wake movements interact to promote motor learning in adulthood
Anyone with a pet dog or cat knows that twitching persists into adulthood. We plan to examine how these movements continue to promote sensorimotor learning across the lifespan.