Northwestern Events Calendar


James C. Houk Lecture in Motor Control: Neural Circuits for Skill

When: Friday, May 14, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Michelle Mohney   312.503.5602

Group: Department of Physiology Seminars

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Adam Hantman, PhD
Howard Hughes Medical Investigator
Group Leader, Janelia Research Campus

Dexterous movements serve the major functions of the brain, perception and manipulation of the world. Considering the range of possible actions and the complexity of musculoskeletal arrangements, control of the hand is an amazing achievement of the nervous system. Dexterous behavior involves understanding objects in the world, developing appropriate plans, converting those plans into appropriate motor commands, and adaptively reacting to feedback. The myriad of these underlying operations is likely performed by a diverse set of neural circuits. By combining anatomy, physiology, and specific (genetic and temporal) manipulations, we are identifying the neural elements responsible for dexterous motor control. Currently, we focus on the role of the cortico-cerebellar loop in a skilled reach-grab-eat task in the rodent.

Speaker Biography

About the James C. Houk Lecture in Motor Control

James C. Houk originally studied electrical engineering before receiving his Ph.D in physiology at Harvard. As an assistant professor at Harvard, he studied Golgi tendon organs, muscle spindles, and developed control models of muscle activation through neuronal circuits in the spinal cord.

Later, as an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Jim began work on the central nervous system in behaving monkeys, work he continued at Northwestern University, after being recruited in 1978 as Chair of the Physiology Department. During this time, Jim also built a world-renowned systems neuroscience group within the Physiology Department.

In 2001, after 23 years, Jim stepped down as chair to concentrate on multimodal approaches to studying how the nonlinear dynamics of microscopic modules in the brain give rise to its unique computational properties. He became particularly interested in the interplay between the basal ganglia, motor cortex and cerebellum.

In 2020, Jim and his wife Antoinette made a gift to establish the Dr. James Houk Graduate Fellowship in Physiology. The fellowship provides funding to outstanding graduate students studying neurophysiology so they can pursue science at Northwestern and train to become the next generation of leaders in the field.

Add to Calendar

Add Event To My Group:

Please sign-in