Alexandra Basford

Ph. D. 2008

Thesis Title:

Neural Mechanisms of Sequence Learning

Current Position:

Assistant Publisher, Macmillian Science Communication, Asia-Pacific Office

Major Advisor(s):

James Ashe, M.D.

Research Description:

The ability of an organism to perform a complex activity is often based on the learning of a sequence of simpler tasks. Intellectual skills, such as the ability to speak or to compose a symphony, may be at the top of the hierarchy of these activities. However, creativity and abstract thought are difficult to quantitate. Many motor skills such as writing and playing a sport, however, not only involve learning of sequences but also have the advantage of being simpler to operationalize.

A large number of brain areas are involved in learning complex motor behaviors. We suggest that three areas in primates, the presupplementary motor area (pre-SMA), the supplementary motor area (SMA), and the primary motor area (M1), play prominent and specific roles in motor learning. We aim to develop a better understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying sequence learning and, more specifically, to investigate the roles of these motor areas in this process.

Selected Publications:

  • Edmunds SC, Pollard TJ, Hole B, Basford AT.  Adventures in data citation: sorghum genome data exemplifies the new gold standard.  BMC Research Notes 2;5:223, 2012.
  • Ashe J, Lungu OV, Basford AT, Lu X.  Cortical control of motor sequences.  Current Opinion in Neurobiology 16.2: 213-221, 2006.
  • Basford AT, Basford JR, Kugel J, Ehman RL. Lorentz-force-induced motion in conductive media. Magn Reson Imaging. 2005 Jun;23(5):647-51.