Skip to main content

HHD COMMUNITY: See the latest HHD updates at Keep up with the latest from Penn State at

Search search
Mobile Search:

Dr. Kristina Neely is a cognitive neuroscientist interested in the interaction between cognition and the motor system. Her research investigates the role of the basal ganglia and prefrontal cortex in the neural control of movement. She especially interested in how individual differences in cognition and personality influence motor output.

The research of the Motor Control, Cognition, and Neuroimaging Lab employs systems neuroscience techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), structural MRI, and kinetic and kinematic movement analysis. Equipment includes air-jet supported friction-free manipulanda, 3-D recording systems, MRI-compatible force sensors, hand and grip force dynamometers, and clinical scales for cognitive and motor testing.

Dr. Neely is looking for collaborators with expertise in psychiatry, pharmacology, diffusion tensor imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, computational modeling, and animal models of ADHD.

The research of the Motor Control, Cognition, and Neuroimaging Laboratory is centered around three themes:

Neurophysiology of grip force control

This work examines the neural networks associated with the preparation, production, and inhibition of precision grip force. This work demonstrates the critical role of the basal ganglia, and the prefrontal and parietal cortices for the control of force output. Further, this work shows that combining motor and cognitive measures is a robust method for characterizing the clinical populations. Representative publications include:

  • Neely K.A., Mohanty S., Schmitt L.M., Wang Z., Sweeney J.A., & Mosconi M.W. (Under Review). Motor memory and clinical impairments in autism spectrum disorder.
  • Neely, K.A., Kurani, A., Shukla, P., Planetta, P., Shukla Wagle, A., Goldman, J., . . . Vaillancourt, D. (2015). Functional brain activity relates to 0–3 and 3–8 Hz force oscillations in essential tremor. Cerebral Cortex, 4191-4202. PMID: 24962992
  • Neely, K.A., Planetta, P., Prodoehl, J., Corcos, D., Comella, C., Goetz, C., . . . Vaillancourt, D. (2013). Force control deficits in individuals with Parkinson’s disease, multiple systems atrophy, and progressive supranuclear palsy. PLoS ONE, 8(3). PMID: 23505500; PMCID: PMC3594313.
  • Neely, K.A., Coombes, S., Planetta, P., & Vaillancourt, D. (2013). Segregated and overlapping neural circuits exist for the production of static and dynamic precision grip force. Human Brain Mapping, 34(3), 698-712. PMID: 22109998; PMCID: PMC3292669.

Neurobiology of Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in late adolescence.

This research is funded by the Mentored Training Award (KL2) through the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at Penn State. This work demonstrates that differences in force production and reaching kinematics are associated with self-reported ADHD impairment. Representative publications include:

  • Neely K.A., Chennavasin A., Yoder A., Williams G.K.R., Huang-Pollock C.L., & Loken, E. (Under Review). Memory-guided force output is associated with self-reported ADHD symptoms in young adults.

Cognition and action across the lifespan.

In collaboration with Drs. Nancy Dennis, Michele Diaz, and Helen Kamens, we seek to discover links in language production, working memory, motor control, and genetics associated with cognitive aging. This project is funded by the Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) at Penn State. Data collection began in 2015. Upcoming conference presentations include:

  • Dennis N.A., Diaz M.T., & Neely K.A. (2016, July). Investigating the scaffolding theory of aging across multiple cognitive domains. Abstract will be presented at International Society for Behavioral Neuroscience.