Section Navigation

Tara L. McIsaac

Professional Background

Educational Background

Ph.D.  2006  Neuroscience – University of Arizona, Tucson
B.S.    1992  Physical Therapy – University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse

Scholarly Interests

Neurophysiology and Motor Learning Laboratory
I am interested in the principles involved in movement skill acquisition that are applicable to individuals with movement disorders and people recovering from neurological injury.  Significant research has informed us of optimal training techniques to enhance motor learning in healthy individuals. However, much less is understood about the unique requirements in learning or re-learning movements after neurological injury such as stroke, or in individuals living with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson disease. My research focuses on factors of attention and instruction that impact the learning of everyday more complex ‘dual-task’ movement skills like driving a car or walking while carrying a cup of coffee. To explore these issues we use neurophysiological measurements of muscle activity (EMG), movement patterns (kinematics) and forces (kinetics). This information will help in developing new approaches to therapeutic interventions for people with movement disorders and injury.

Selected Publications

principal publications

honors and awards

Degenerative Diseases Special Interest Group Nominating Committee, Neurology Section, American Physical Therapy Association - Elected Member (2011)

Dean's Competitive Grant for Pre-tenured Faculty, Teachers College, Columbia University (2009)

Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Teachers College, Columbia University (2007-2008)
     Principal investigator, “Multi-digit grasping in Parkinson’s disease”

Douglas G. Stuart Predoctoral Fellowship in Neuroscience, University of Arizona, (2005-2006)

NIH Predoctoral Training Grant, Program in Neuroscience, University of Arizona, (2000 - 2002)

Lutheran Hospital Auxiliary Health Career Scholarship, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, (1991 - 1992)

Organization for Campus Women Scholarship, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, (1988 - 1989)


BBSR 4060: Motor learning

Study of factors relating to the acquisition and performance of motor skills. Includes review and analysis of appropriate research findings.

BBSR 4900: Research and independent study in movement science and education

Permission required. Masters degree students undertake research and independent study under the direction of a faculty member.

BBSR 5028: Motor development across the lifespan

Review and analysis of theoretical models and experimental research related to development and performance of motor skills throughout the lifespan.

BBSR 5050: Neurophysiology of motor control and electromyography

Review and analysis of theoretical models and experimental research related to development and performance of motor skills throughout the lifespan. Advanced topics dealing with the experimental and clinical use of electromyography. Topics will be integrated with the kinematics of movements being observed. A laboratory project using EMG will be required. Lab fee: $50.

BBSR 5251: Fieldwork seminar in motor learning and motor control

Applications of theory/research to therapeutic or educational practice for students in field-based settings.

BBSR 5504: Research training in motor learning

Permission required. A competency-based approach to the preparation of researchers in the areas of neuromotor control and perceptual-motor processes. Several learning experiences are offered each semester, involving lectures, laboratory practica, seminars and individual research advisement.

BBSR 6564: Advanced topics in neuromotor processes

Topic changes annually.

Centers and Projects

Movement Science Laboratories
Website: #

The Movement Science laboratories were recently upgraded to cutting edge technology for the study of movement with support from a National Science Foundation Major Instrumentation Grant.

Tara L. McIsaac appeared in the following articles:

BBS Student and Faculty Member Present Research at Society for Neuroscience (11/15/2011 2:22:00 PM)

New Faces at TC (10/10/2008)