Jennifer Stevens, Ph.D.
Neuroscience Program Faculty Affiliate
Office: ISC 1149
My research focuses on the representation of action in the mind and brain. I am particularly interested in examining cognitive and neural processes under unique or challenging movement situations: cases of injury, presence of barriers, increased mental load.
Three lines of research are currently underway. (1)The effect of motor imagery on signal modulation at the cognitive, muscular, and neural level of processing. Several studies have demonstrated beneficial effects of mental imagery on physical performance. We are seeking to address the precise origin of this benefit by examining signal changes that occur as a result of mental practice at multiple levels of processing. (2)The effect of spatial constraint on cognitive processing. The mind-body dichotomy presents the mind as an entity separate and removed from the physical body. Studies in our lab, and those linked to the view of embodied cognition, have demonstrated a very direct relation between the mind and the processes that occur within it and the current posture or configuration of the body. We are specifically examining the link between posture and cognition through a series of behavioral and neural studies. (3)Let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. We are examining the value of bilateral, mirror simulated movement on improving performance in typical and impaired (stroke survivors with hemiparesis) populations.