2023: Mark L. Latash, PhD

Mark Latash presented the 16th Glen E. Gresham Visiting Professorship lecture.

"Biological Movement: Health and Impaired Control of Its Stability"

Lecturer Biography

Mark L. Latash, PhD.

Mark Latash is a distinguished professor of kinesiology and director of the Motor Control Laboratory at The Pennsylvania State University. His research interests are focused on the control and coordination of human voluntary movements, movement disorders in neurological disorders and effects of rehabilitation. He is the author of “Control of Human Movement” (1993), “The Neurophysiological Basis of Movement” (1998, 2008, 2022), “Synergy” (2008), “Fundamentals of Motor Control” (2012), “Motor Control and Biomechanics: Defining Central Concepts” (with V.M. Zatsiorsky, 2016), and “Physics of Biological Action and Perception” (2019).

Latash has also edited 10 books. Two of those contained translations of classical monographs by Nikolai Bernstein, “Dexterity and Its Development” (1996) and “Bernstein’s Construction of Movements” (2020). He ha also published over 450 papers in refereed journals. He served as founding editor of the journal “Motor Control” (1996-2007) and as president of the International Society of Motor Control (2001-2005). He has served as director of the annual Motor Control Summer School series since 2004. He is a recipient of the Bernstein Prize in motor control.

Lecture summary

Biological and inanimate objects obey the classical laws of nature. Nevertheless, movement only of inanimate objects, but not of biological objects, can be predicted based on those laws. This means that our understanding of laws of nature, as applied to living systems, is incomplete. Over the past 50 years, an approach to motor control has been developed based on the idea of parametric control: Producing movements by changing parameters of relevant laws of nature. A hierarchical scheme of parametric control, from the whole body to single muscles, has been developed, which is naturally compatible with the idea of synergies as neural mechanisms ensuring movement stability. Movement stability, which is essential for functional action, have been explored using the framework of the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis. Studies of neurological patients have provided evidence for a major role played by subcortical circuits involving the basal ganglia and cerebellum in the control of movement stability. Studies of synergies offer a sensitive biomarker for early detection of neurological disorders.