Mark Hallett, M.D.

Senior Investigator

Human Motor Control Section


Building 10, Room 7D37
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-1428


Research Topics

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, psychogenic 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 now is the process of movement initiation and volition. We have been studying motor learning including the process of making movement automatic.

Dystonia has been the main movement disorder investigated recently. We have found that there are a number of pathophysiological problems including loss of surround inhibition, abnormal plasticity and defective sensory function. We are looking further into the mechanisms of these problems. We have been studying the genesis of tics in patients with Tourette Syndrome. Part of our work is to translate physiological insights into therapies, and we have clinical trials ongoing in Parkinson's disease, dystonia and essential tremor.


Dr. Hallett obtained his A.B. and M.D. at Harvard University, had his internship in Medicine at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and his Neurology training at Massachusetts General Hospital. He had fellowships in neurophysiology at the NIH and in the Department of Neurology, Institute of Psychiatry in London, where he worked with C. David Marsden. Before coming to NIH in 1984, Dr. Hallett was the Chief of the Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and worked his way up to Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. He is currently Chief of the Medical Neurology Branch and Chief of its Human Motor Control Section. He is now President of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. He has been President of the Movement Disorder Society and Vice-President of the American Academy of Neurology. Among many awards, in 2012 he became an Honorary Member of the American Neurological Association , and in 2014 won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine.His research activities focus on the physiology of human voluntary movement and its pathophysiology in disordered voluntary movement and involuntary movement. Dr. Mark Hallet intervew in Oral History Program :

Selected Publications

  1. Maurer CW, LaFaver K, Ameli R, Toledo R, Hallett M. A biological measure of stress levels in patients with functional movement disorders. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2015;21(9):1072-5.

  2. Shields J, Park JE, Srivanitchapoom P, Paine R, Thirugnanasambandam N, Kukke SN, Hallett M. Probing the interaction of the ipsilateral posterior parietal cortex with the premotor cortex using a novel transcranial magnetic stimulation technique. Clin Neurophysiol. 2016;127(2):1475-80.

  3. Thirugnanasambandam N, Khera R, Wang H, Kukke SN, Hallett M. Distinct interneuronal networks influence excitability of the surround during movement initiation. J Neurophysiol. 2015;114(2):1102-8.

  4. Gallea C, Horovitz SG, 'Ali Najee-Ullah M, Hallett M. Impairment of a parieto-premotor network specialized for handwriting in writer's cramp. Hum Brain Mapp. 2016.

  5. Berman BD, Hallett M, Herscovitch P, Simonyan K. Striatal dopaminergic dysfunction at rest and during task performance in writer's cramp. Brain. 2013;136(Pt 12):3645-58.

This page was last updated on January 23rd, 2018