Researcher biography

Stephan Riek is Deputy Dean of the UQ Graduate School and Professor of Motor Neuroscience in the Centre for Sensorimotor Performance within the School of Human Movementand Nutrition Sciences.

Stephan is from Canada and completed his undergraduate and postgraduate education at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

Stephan's research focuses on three broad aspects;

Brain Mechanisms of Learning in Visually Guided Movement.

I am interested in how the brain controls and adapts visually guided movement, which involves the integration of sensory signals, primarily through vision, with the selection and execution of appropriate motor commands. In a series of projects, we are using non-invasive brain stimulation (TMS) in different ways; to interfere with specific brain regions during motor adaptation, to examine intracortical inhibitory and excitatory processes, to examine inter-connections between brain areas, and to induce plasticity to promote learning.

How Does the Brain Prepare for Movement?

Unexpected loud noises can trigger a cascade of movements with very fast onsets, typically to prompt the brain to initiate a movement to avoid danger or injury. When a person is preparing to perform a voluntary action, the presentation of a loud acoustic stimulus (startle) can trigger the action to be initiated much earlier than intended. We are investigating the neural basis of this observation using non-invasive brain stimulation to assess cortical processes during movement preparation. It is possible that these mechanisms can be exploited to benefit rehabilitation of movement difficulties resulting from stroke and Parkinson's disease, in which the ability to initiate movement is diminished.

Applied Principles of Motor Learning and Skill Acquisition

In more applied work, I have a number of collaborative projects with industry partners including Boeing Research and Technology, Australia and Queensland Health. These projects provide an opportunity to apply basic principals of movement control and adaptation to address issues in complex control scenarios, information delivery and human computer interactions.