Sainburg to discuss evolution of handedness at 2009 Pattishall Research Lecture

March 24, 2009

Dr. 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.

image of Pattishall poster

Sainburg will present “The Evolutionary Advantage of Handedness,” at 4:00 p.m., Monday, April 6, Bennett-Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building.

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Sainburg’s lecture, titled “The Evolutionary Advantage of Handedness,” will begin at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 6 in the Bennett-Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public.

Dr. Robert 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, Dr. Sainburg discovered that the way the brain controls arm mechanics differs between the dominant and non-dominant arms. Interestingly, the non-dominant 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 non-dominant hands in stroke survivors.

Dr. 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, Dr. Sainburg has published twenty-four papers in peer-reviewed journals and his publications were cited more than 600 times. He has recently 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.

Dr. Sainburg received his B.S. in occupational therapy from New York University. He received both his M.S. in physiology/neurobiology and his Ph.D. 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.