Psychology 216: Movement

Fall 2013
Updated October 21, 2013

"What a piece of work is a man ... in form and moving, how express and admirable, in action, how like an angel..."
    - W. Shakespeare, Hamlet

"...To move things is all that mankind can do ... for such the sole executant is muscle, whether in whispering a syllable or in felling a forest."
    - C.S. Sherrington

Instructor Professor Schall
Office  004 Wilson Hall
Phone  322-0868
Office Hours 2-3 pm, Monday and Wednesday or by appointment
Reading David A. Rosenbaum, Human Motor Control and webpages

Aug 21  Introduction to the course

Aug 23
  Introduction to the History & Problems of Motor Control

Chapter 1, 2

The goal of this course is to provide an understanding of how we move. This understanding is derived from information about how muscles and the brain work, from information about how movements are planned and performed and from information about what computations are needed to carry out the movements.

Aug 26 - Sep 6  The Neural Motor System

Examines the functional organization of the nervous system, how muscles work, the extrapyramidal motor system of the brain and the cortical motor systems of the brain.

Chapter 3 (Primary source)

Purves Neuroscience textbook online (supplementary source)

Introductory neuroscience lecture slides

Introductory neuroscience outline

Muscles, proprioception and spinal cord

Skeletal motor areas in cerebral cortex

Basal ganglia & Cerebellum: Extrapyramidal motor system

Sep 9 - 20  Movement Disorders

Chapter 3

Purves Neuroscience textbook online

Review the neural and performance basis of various disorders such as Parkinson's or Huntington's disease


Sep 23 - Oct 7  Psychology of Movement

Chapter 4, Chapter 9

Examine production of movement sequences, skill acquisition and mental representations underlying movement.  Introduce concepts of response time, movement preparation and readiness.  Focus on various lawful relations that have been discovered about human movement in various domains. 

Oct 9  Midterm Examination & Journals Due


Oct 14 - 18  Looking: Low level

Examine the function of movements of the eyes, the organization of the ocular motor system and the neural basis of gaze control and eye movement generation.

Chapter 6

Presentation on brainstem saccade generator

Oct 21 - 23  
Looking: High level Examine relation of attention and eye movements, saccade target selection and voluntary control of gaze.

Schall JD. The neural selection and control of saccades by the frontal eye field. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2002 357:1073-82.

Schall JD, Boucher L. Executive control of gaze by the frontal lobes. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2007 7:396-412.

Presentation on saccade target selection

Presentation on control of saccade initiation and interactive race model of stopping 

Oct 25  
Looking: Reading and picture viewing

Oct 28 - Nov 1 
Reaching and Grasping

Chapter 7

Examine regularities of reaching performance, as well as computational and neural basis of reaching.  Review eye-hand coordination and how the hand grasps objects.  

Nov 4 - 8 
Drawing and Writing

Chapter 8

Examine regularities of performance in drawing and evidence for how writing is done.

Nov 11 - 15  Speaking

Chapter 10

Examine the production of speech

Nov 18 - Nov 22
From Movement to Action

When does a body movement count as an action?  What is the difference between a wink and a blink?  If choices are the outcome of brain processes, and if all brain processes are deterministic, then how can choices be free?  Robotic machines can move, but can they act responsibly?

Required reading

Schall JD. Neural basis of deciding, choosing and acting. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2001 Jan;2(1):33-42.

"Is God a Taoist", Raymond M. Smullyan

Deciding, Choosing & Acting POWERPOINT PRESENTATION

Nov 25 - 29 

Dec 2 
Wilson Hall Animal Facility  tour

Dec 4 (Last Class)  Students present research topics    Turn in writing assignment

Dec 13 (Friday), 9:00 am   Final Examination

Computer & Cell Phone Policy 

Cell phones will not disrupt this course.  Please silence them. 

Computers will not disrupt this course.  Laptops may be used for note taking until it appears that they are a distraction to you or to your classmates.  You may think that you can pay attention to both the lecture and to Facebook or some other online activity, but you can't. Worse, your distraction may be distracting to your classmates. 


50% Midterm and final examinations

These will consist of multiple choice, short answer and longer questions. Lecture, webpage, handout, demonstration and textbook information will be covered.

30% Writing requirement

In the first half of the semester I would like for you to keep a personal movement journal. Notice errors that you make. Notice skills that you learn. Notice what others are doing. Notice items in the popular press. Notice performance at sporting events. Notice all that is within and around you that is relevant to motor control - that is, of course, everything you or anyone else does! Turn in the journals at the MIDTERM test.

In the second half of the semester I would like for you to explore a topic that is interesting to you. A number of good topics are highlighted in Chapter 12.  You will report your findings in a 20 page (double-spaced, 1" margins, 12 point font) paper. On the last class session you will give a 1 minute synposis of your topic.  The paper will be due at the beginning of the last class in December (What if you are late?  Don't ask.).  You are invited to turn in the paper electronically.

Please feel free to consult with me on the selection of the topic. Many sources are available such as your textbook, other books, review articles and original research articles. A large number of relevant sites have also been developed on the World Wide Web.

20% Participation and quiz scores

Attendance and evidence of preparation for class will be monitored with quizzes. Most quizzes will review material we have covered. However, I reserve the right to quiz you at the beginning of a session on material that will be covered that day.  Therefore, please read ahead; that will make the course more educational and fun for you and me.

Final grades will be on a standard decile scale: 93% and up A, 90-92% A-, 87-89% B+, 83-86% B, 80-82% B-, 77-79% C+, 73-76% C, 70-72% C-, 67-69% D+, 63-66% D, 60-62% D-, <59% F

The Vanderbilt Honor Code governs all work in this class.