Prior to joining Washington University in 2001, Professor Moran studied motor systems neurophysiology as a junior and associate fellow at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California.
The Moran Lab investigates how various neural substrates control voluntary movement. Their recent findings show that individual cells in primary motor cortex encode both translational and rotational kinematics of arm movement (i.e. hand position/orientation and their time derivatives). Using novel decoding schemes in their brain-computer interface (BCI) studies, they are able to simultaneously predict movement kinematics from a population of motor cortical neurons allowing their subjects to control computer cursors through thought alone. Furthermore, the lab has pioneered a new recording modality, electrocorticography or ECoG, that allows them to implant minimally invasive recording electrodes on the surface of the brain for BCI applications. Their subjects have learned to accurately control a 3D computer cursor through neural adaptation of microECoG signals. Future research will involve controlling complex 3D musculoskeletal models with cortical signals with the eventual goal of designing BCI systems for amputees or paralyzed individuals that will allow neuroprosthetic control of a robotic limb or functional electrical stimulation (FES) of a paralyzed limb.