Kantak Research


  • Research Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Institute Scientist, Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute

Neuroplasticity and Motor Behavior Laboratory
Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute
50 Township Line Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027

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Dr. Kantak directs the Neuroplasticity and Motor Behavior Laboratory where he investigates how goal-directed arm and hand movements are controlled and learned in both the healthy and injured neuromuscular system. Dr. Kantak’s lab conducts behavioral, neuroimaging, and neurophysiological experiments based on principles of motor control, learning, and neuroplasticity to identify key factors that influence rehabilitation. Ultimately, the goal of his work is to design novel and effective interventions to improve rehabilitation of individuals with damage to the nervous system.

Research Focus Areas

Organization of bimanual coordination after stroke

Almost all actions of daily living are bimanual; however, little is known about how coordinated bimanual actions are controlled and learned in neurotypical individuals and those with brain injury. The focus of this line of research, funded by the NIH-NICHD, is to characterize behavioral and neural bases of bimanual coordination in individuals with stroke by combining objective kinematic and kinetic markers of coordination, neuroimaging, and noninvasive brain stimulation.

Cognitive motor interactions underlying arm nonuse after stroke

Despite having the motor capacity, many individuals with stroke do not use the weaker hand in daily life — a phenomenon that characterized this use-capacity disparity is often referred to as arm nonuse. In collaboration with Dr. Laurel Buxbaum, we investigate how deficits in sensorimotor, attention, and apathy contribute to arm nonuse. Using neuroimaging data, we explore the neuroanatomic bases of arm nonuse. Finally, we are testing the validity of a new virtual reality system to measure arm choice and nonuse in individuals with stroke. This line of research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Neuromodulation to improve motor control and learning

Neural connectivity implements complex recovery processes after stroke. In this line of research, we use theoretically-driven models of neural connectivity after stroke to inform neuromodulation strategies to target specific motor deficits, thus contributing to personalized rehabilitation.

Practice structure and motor learning

Practice is crucial to learning new motor skills or reacquiring previously learned skills lost after neuromuscular injury. How we practice greatly influences how fast and how much we learn and retain. In this line of research, we investigate how practice structure influences motor skill acquisition and the neural substrates associated with practice.

Pain and motor control

When in pain, we move differently. These altered movement patterns often persist and lead to further pain and disability. In this line of research, we study the sensory-perceptual, cognitive, and motor contributors to altered motor control in the presence of pain.