Mark Hallett, M.D.
NIH Distinguished Investigator
Human Motor Control Section
Building 10, Room 7D37
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-1428
The general mission of the Human Motor Control Section is to understand the physiology of normal human voluntary movement and the pathophysiology of different movement disorders. The members of the Section work together on the different projects, each bringing special expertise to the tasks. The main techniques employed are transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroencephalography (EEG), neuroimaging with positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and other techniques of clinical neurophysiology. The principal diseases studied are dystonia, Parkinson's disease, cerebellar ataxia, myoclonus, essential tremor, tic, functional movement disorders and startle disorders.
In relation to the physiology of movement, we have studied the brain processes associated with the preparation and execution of different types of movements. A special interest is the process of movement initiation and volition. We have been studying motor learning including the process of making movement automatic and the process of movement selectivity.
As one example of our work, we have been exploring the pathophysiology of functional movement disorders (FMD). There are abnormalities identifiable with functional MRI that help explain why the patients experience their movements as involuntary. The right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) region plays a role in the sense of self-agency and it has defective connectivity even in the resting brain.
Maurer CW, LaFaver K, Limachia GS, Capitan G, Ameli R, Sinclair S, Epstein SA, Hallett M, Horovitz SG. Gray matter differences in patients with functional movement disorders. Neurology. 2018;91(20):e1870-e1879.
Thirugnanasambandam N, Leodori G, Popa T, Kassavetis P, Mandel A, Shaft A, Kee J, Kashyap S, Khodorov G, Hallett M. Parietal conditioning enhances motor surround inhibition. Brain Stimul. 2020;13(2):447-449.
Merchant SHI, Frangos E, Parker J, Bradson M, Wu T, Vial-Undurraga F, Leodori G, Bushnell MC, Horovitz SG, Hallett M, Popa T. The role of the inferior parietal lobule in writer's cramp. Brain. 2020;143(6):1766-1779.
Spagnolo PA, Norato G, Maurer CW, Goldman D, Hodgkinson C, Horovitz S, Hallett M. Effects of TPH2 gene variation and childhood trauma on the clinical and circuit-level phenotype of functional movement disorders. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2020;91(8):814-821.
Hanakawa T, Goldfine AM, Hallett M. A Common Function of Basal Ganglia-Cortical Circuits Subserving Speed in Both Motor and Cognitive Domains. eNeuro. 2017;4(6).
Related Scientific Focus Areas
Social and Behavioral Sciences
This page was last updated on August 15th, 2020