Neurophysiology, motor control, biomechanics, rehabilitation, fMRI, biomedical sensors.
Dr. Milner’s research is principally concerned with understanding how the central nervous system controls movement and mechanical impedance of the arms and legs. He studies the mechanics and activation patterns of muscles during various activities, as well as the processing of somatosensory information during movement. One focus of his research is on the neural mechanisms which are responsible for improvement in performance with practice. He trains human subjects to perform activities using robotic devices that can apply novel forces to the limbs. By analyzing changes in the patterns of activation of limb muscles as subjects practice he and his colleagues have developed a model for motor learning. The model explains how the central nervous system iteratively modifies muscle activation during learning so that appropriate forces are generated to perform an activity and sufficient viscoelastic impedance is created to ensure stability.
Dr. Milner also conducts functional brain imaging studies which investigate the roles of different brain areas in motor control and motor learning. He is interested in rehabilitation of impaired motor function after damage to the brain. He and his collaborators have developed novel robotic devices for rehabilitation of hand function after stroke. Studies are currently underway investigating the efficacy of these robot devices in reducing impairment of hand function in stroke survivors.