The Motor Skill Lab is directed by Michelle Marneweck at the University of Oregon’s Department of Human Physiology. The goal of our research is to leverage state-of-the-art behavioral and neurophysiological methods to understand the processes by which humans have the remarkable capacity to interact skillfully and dexterously with their environment.

Some topics that are currently keeping us entertained:
How do we learn, plan, and perform a skilled, dexterous behavior?
How do we recalibrate and generalize skillful actions in response to the dynamics of an inherently variable environment?
What are the roadblocks that halt the progression towards generalized motor behavior?
How does the brain compute these above processes?

We leverage a multimodal approach for investigating the neural control and biomechanics of motor skill by combining sensitive biomechanical measures (e.g. kinematics and kinetics), with electrophysiological (e.g. TMS) and neuroimaging (e.g. fMRI) measures.

We also work with different populations with particular neural pathologies occurring at birth or later in life (e.g. cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, Friedreich’s Ataxia) to study how different neural regions contribute to different aspects of skilled behavior.


Marneweck, Grafton, 2020. Neural substrates of anticipatory motor adaptation for object lifting. Nature Scientific Reports.

Marneweck, Grafton, 2020. Representational neural mapping of dexterous grasping before lifting in humans. Journal of Neuroscience.

Marneweck et al. 2018. Neural representations of sensorimotor memory- and digit position-based load force adjustments before the onset of dexterous object manipulation. Journal of Neuroscience.

Marneweck et al. 2018. The relationship between hand function and overlapping motor representations of the hands in the contralesional hemisphere in unilateral spastic cerebral palsy. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.

Marneweck Flamand, 2016. Elucidating the neural circuitry underlying planning of internally-guided voluntary action. Journal of Neurophysiology.

Marneweck et al. 2016. Digit position and forces covary during anticipatory control of whole-hand manipulation. Frontiers in Human Neurosciences.

Lee-Miller et al. 2016. Visual cues of object properties differentially affect anticipatory planning of digit forces and placement. PLoS One.

Marneweck et al. 2015. Generalization of dexterous object manipulation is specific to the frame of reference in which it was learned. PLoS One

Marneweck, Vallence, 2015. The neural bases of different levels of action understanding. Journal of Neurophysiology.

Marneweck, Hammond, 2014. Voluntary control of facial musculature in Parkinson’s disease. Journal of the Neurological Sciences.

Marneweck, Hammond, 2014. Discriminating facial expressions of emotion and its link with perceiving visual form in Parkinson’s disease. Journal of the Neurological Sciences.

Marneweck et al. 2014. Discrimination and recognition of facial expressions of emotion and their links with voluntary control of facial musculature in Parkinson’s disease. Neuropsychology.

Marneweck et al. 2013. Psychophysical measures of sensitivity to facial expression of emotion. Frontiers in Psychology.

Marneweck et al. 2011. Short-interval intracortical inhibition and manual dexterity in healthy aging. Neuroscience Research.


Michelle Marneweck, Principal Investigator

Michelle’s research centre around the neural- and motor control processes that allow humans to skillfully and dexterously interact with their environment, as well as effects of damage to or aging of such processes. She studies these processes from multimodal perspectives that bridge biomechanics, neurophysiology and neuroimaging.

Originally from South Africa, Michelle earned a Ph.D. at the University of Western Australia. Subsequently, she completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University in New York, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Monash University in Melbourne. Michelle will be joining the Department of Human Physiology at the University of Oregon in the Fall of 2020.

Michelle also likes: surfing, skiing, hiking, mosaic hops, and Neopolitan style margarita pizzas.

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The Motor Skill Lab is currently recruiting grad students and lab manager. We are looking for people with an interest in behavioral neuroscientific research, with an emphasis on motor control. We are keen to hear from those with experience (or an interest in acquiring experience) in designing, programming and conducting biomechanics, fMRI, and/or brain stimulation experiments in clinical or healthy people.

The lab is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion, and in maintaining a fun and supportive research environment for everyone.

If you are interested in joining the lab as a PhD student, postdoc, research assistant, or lab manager, please email Michelle.


Join our lab and live in a place where beauty is around every corner! We have exciting positions starting Fall 2020. We will be accepting graduate students through the Department of Human Physiology Research PhD Program.

Please e-mail Michelle if interested. I support all students regardless of immigration status or country of origin.