Maureen Holden
research scientist (1999-present)



PhD in Experimental Psychology (Brandeis)
MA in Experimental Psychology (Brandeis)
MMSC in Neurological Physical Therapy (Emory)
BS in Physical Therapy (Northeastern)

current projects

Training motor control using a virtual environment
Analysis of functional hand movements and training regimens

research interest

My major research interests are the sensorimotor contributions to motor control and learning, especially as applied to patients with neurological impairments such as stroke or brain injury, and in the application of technology to assist neurorehabilitation. My current work involves use of a virtual environment to retrain upper extremity movements in patients with stroke.

We have developed a new type of motor training system which utilizes a virtual environment (VE) and augmented feedback to enhance rehabilitation of the upper extremities in patients who have suffered neurological injury, such as stroke or traumatic brain injury. Our VE training system is designed to facilitate motor re-learning and motor generalization, and allows quantitative assessment of arm movements in 3-D. Key features of the system include Training Scenes (3-D "pictures" that are designed to elicit movements in a natural way by creating an environmental context and task goal for that movement), a Virtual "Teacher" who shows the correct movement by representing the trajectory of the limb's end point (or entire arm, if desired), an animated display of the Patient's Movement, as he/she attempts to "imitate" the teacher in real time, a Scoring System which calculates the degree of "matching" between the teacher and patient trajectories, and multiple additional features which provide augmented feedback during performance, and knowledge of results after performance.

We are presently using this system to study motor learning and motor generalization in patients with stroke and traumatic brain injury. To do this, we use scenes designed to elicit specific movements that are targeted for training in the virtual world. Following VE training of these movements, we test the patient's ability to perform these movements in both the virtual environment and in the real world. We also test a variety of untrained movements to assess the amount and type of motor generalization that has occurred.

selected publications

  1. Holden, M.K., Dyar, T.A., Dayan-Cimadoro, L. (2007) Telerehabilitation using a virtual environment improves upper extremity function in patients with stroke. Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 15(1): 36-42. PDF
  2. Holden, M.K., Dyar, T.A., Dayan-Cimadoro, L. (2006) Design and testing of a telerehabilitation system for motor re-training using a virtual environment. Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Virtual Rehabilitation, New York, NY, Aug. 29-30, 2006, pp. 134-139. PDF
  3. Holden, MK (2005). Virtual environments for motor rehabilitation: review. Cyberpsychol Behav. 8(3):187-211; discussion 212-9. PDF
  4. Holden, M.K., Dyar, T.A., Schwamm, L., Bizzi, E. (2005) Virtual-environment-based telerehabilitation in patients with stroke. Presence-Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 14 (2): 214-233. PDF
  5. Holden, M.K., Dyar, T., Schwamm, L., Bizzi, E. (2003) Home-based telerehabilitation using a virtual environment system. In Burdea, G.C., Thalmann. D., Lewis, J.A. (Eds.): Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Virtual Rehabilitation, pp. 4-12, 2003. PDF
  6. Holden, M.K., Dyar, T. (2002) Virtual environment training: A new tool for rehabilitation. Neuro. Rep. 26(2): 62-71. PDF
  7. Holden, M.K., Todorov, E. (2002). Use of virtual environments in motor learning and rehabilitation. In Stanney, K (Ed.), Handbook of Virtual Environment Technology. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc, Inc. ch. 49, pp. 999-1026. PDF
  8. Holden, M.K. (2001) Neurorehabilitation using 'learning by imitation' in virtual environments. In: M.J. Smith et al. (Eds.), Usability Evaluation and Interface Design, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. pp. 624-628. PDF
  9. Holden, M.K., Dettwiler, A., Dyar, T., Niemann, G., Bizzi, E. (2001) Retraining movement in patients with acquired brain injury using a virtual environment. In: J.D. Westwood et al (Eds.), Proceedings of Medicine Meets Virtual Reality. Amsterdam: IOS Press. pp. 192-198. PDF
  10. Holden, M., Todorov, E., Callahan, J., and Bizzi, E. (1999) Virtual environment training improves motor performance with stroke: case report. Neuro. Rep., 23(2): 57-67. PDF