Jenni Ice Cream.jpg

Postdoctoral Fellow
Started September, 2014

Email: jkarl3<at>uwo.ca
Website: www.jennikarl.com 

Research Interests:

My research aims to understand how the human brain generates the skilled hand and mouth movements that we use to feed ourselves, make and use tools, gesture, and speak. I am especially interested in how these movements, and their underlying neural substrates, arose through evolution, are established during development, and break down in various neurological disorders. 

Emerging evidence suggests that the cortical motor system is organized according to specific, behaviourally relevant, action modules such as reaching to a point in external space or bringing a hand to the mouth. Each action module is also characterized by a unique, species-specific sensory control hierarchy. For instance, reaching to a point in external space is guided by olfaction or somatosensation (via the whiskers) in rodents, and by vision in humans, although somatosensation can be used if vision is removed. In contrast, bringing a hand to the mouth is mediated by somatosensation in both species. This raises a number of interesting questions about how the brain combines different action modules, under various forms of sensory control, in order to generate more complex behaviours with a variety of effectors. 

To address these questions I use frame-by-frame video analysis, linear kinematics, and a neuroethological approach to describe changes in the structure of hand and mouth movements under changing sensory conditions in developing infants, healthy adults, and clinical populations. A primary aim of my postdoctoral studies is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging to characterize the organization of these action modules, and their accompanying sensory control hierarchies, in the human brain.

Education:

Ph.D. in Behavioural Neuroscience (2014)
Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge, AB, Canada

M.Sc. in Behavioural Neuroscience (2010)
Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge, AB, Canada

B.Sc. (Hons.) in Neuroscience (2008)
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge, AB, Canada

Select Publications (full list on CV):

Karl, J. M., & Whishaw, I. Q. (2014). Haptic grasping configurations in early infancy reveal different developmental profiles for visual guidance of the Reach versus the Grasp. Experimental Brain Research, 232(10), 3301-3316. 

Karl, J. M., & Whishaw, I. Q. (2013). Different evolutionary origins for the Reach and the Grasp: an explanation for dual visuomotor channels in primate parietofrontal cortex. Frontiers in Neurology, 4(208), doi: 10.3389/fneur.2013.00208.

Karl, J. M., Sacrey, L. R., Doan, J. B., & Whishaw, I. Q. (2012). Oral hapsis guides accurate hand preshaping for grasping food targets in the mouth. Experimental Brain Research, 221(2), 223-240.

Karl, J. M., Sacrey, L. R., Doan, J. B., & Whishaw, I. Q. (2012). Hand shaping using hapsis resembles visually guided hand shaping. Experimental Brain Research, 219(1), 59-74.

Karl J. M. & Whishaw I. Q. (2012). Rodent skilled reaching for modeling pathological conditions of the human motor system. In E. L. Lane & S. B. Dunnett (Eds.), Contemporary Animal Models of Movement Disorders: Volume I, Neuromethods, vol. 61, (pp. 87 – 107). New York, NY: Springer.