Dagmar Sternad is professor of biology, electrical and computer engineering, and physics at Northeastern University. She graduated from the Technical University and Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich and received her Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Connecticut. From 1995 until 2008, she held a professor position at the Pennsylvania State University.
Her research in movement neuroscience focuses on learning and control of sensorimotor coordination in humans using virtual environments and robotic interfaces. Her research approach comprises behavioral experiments on human subjects, theoretical work and mathematical modeling using coupled dynamical systems and brain imaging studies that investigate the cerebral activity accompanying movement.
Specific topics that her laboratory focuses on include the identification of dynamic primitives in movement generation and the role of variability in motor learning. These experimental approaches have been extended to neurological disorders, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease and in children with dystonia. Her more recent research on motor impairments in autism tests a new hypothesis about the underlying mechanisms of autism: an impaired ability to predict and interact with dynamic events. This theoretical perspective seamlessly meshes with her long-standing research on motor control of upper-limb coordination and presents a clinically significant extension of her fundamental National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research on the role of prediction in complex object control.
Sternad’s lab has had continuous funding for more than 20 years from the NIH, National Science Foundation, American Heart Association and the Office of Naval Research.