Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Amanda received her bachelor of science (honors) in human kinetics from The University of Ottawa (Ottawa, Ontario) in 2004 and her PhD in kinesiology with a specialization in sensorimotor neuroscience from McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) in 2013. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for Movement Studies studying reinforcement learning and adaptation in cerebellar ataxia.
Cerebellar ataxia is a degenerative condition that causes progressive atrophying of the cerebellum and surrounding brain structures. It results in several motor impairments, such as poorly coordinated movement and difficulties with balance and gait. The cerebellum has long been known to be important for a form of error-based motor learning called adaptation, which cerebellar damage impairs. Impaired adaptation contributes to difficulties associated with rehabilitating the motor symptoms of the disorder.
Amanda’s research aims to determine whether other mechanisms of motor learning remain intact in patients with cerebellar ataxia. In particular, she is interested in whether mechanisms of reinforcement learning, which are thought to function independently of adaptation, can be leveraged to help patients improve their movements.