Sainburg to discuss evolution of handedness

March 24, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- Robert Sainburg, associate professor of kinesiology and neurology in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, will present the 2009 Pattishall Research Lecture.
Sainburg’s lecture, titled “The Evolutionary Advantage of Handedness,” will begin at 4 p.m. Monday, April 6, in the Bennett-Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building on The University Park campus of Penn State. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public.
Sainburg, a well-respected researcher in the area of movement neuroscience, has developed a hypothesis of motor control that has rippled through the research community. After coming to Penn State in 2000, Sainburg discovered that the way the brain controls arm mechanics differs between the dominant and nondominant arms. Interestingly, the nondominant arm was not necessarily “worse” at certain tasks than the dominant arm. This led him to conduct clinical trials involving the use of dominant and nondominant hands in stroke survivors.
Sainburg’s work has been published in prestigious journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Neurophysiology, and Experimental Brain Research. In addition, his dominance hypothesis correctly predicted the outcomes of tests conducted with stroke survivors. As a result, his paper on the topic was published in Brain, the most prestigious journal of neurology.
In the past five years alone, Sainburg has published 24 papers in peer-reviewed journals and his publications were cited more than 600 times. He recently has been appointed editor of the Journal of Motor Behavior. He has been highly successful at securing external grant support and he involves numerous undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students in his laboratory, which is one of the most active in the Department of Kinesiology.
Sainburg received his bachelor of science degree in occupational therapy from New York University. He received both his master of science degree in physiology/neurobiology and his doctorate in neuroscience from Rutgers University, and completed postdoctoral work at Columbia University. He currently serves as co-director of the interdisciplinary graduate program in neuroscience at Penn State.
The Pattishall Research Lecture is delivered each year by the most recent recipient of the Pattishall Outstanding Research Achievement Award, which honors a senior faculty member who has made outstanding research contributions to the field across a major portion of his or her career. The award was established by the late Evan Pattishall, who served as dean of the former College of Human Development, and his wife, Helen.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015