Movement Disorders Laboratory: Colum MacKinnon, PI


The laboratory uses a variety of non-invasive neurophysiological techniques (high-resolution EEG, TMS, tDCS, startle) to probe the cortical, subcortical and spinal mechanisms contributing to movement impairment. In collaboration with colleagues at the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR), we are also using brain imaging methods (magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography) to examine the neuroanatomy and neurochemistry of movement disorders. These methods are combined with measures of movement kinematics and kinetics and multi-channel electromyography (EMG) that provide objective quantitative assessment of movement performance. The present focus of research is examining the mechanisms contributing to the two of the cardinal motor symptoms of basal ganglia dysfunction: akinesia (poverty of spontaneous voluntary movement) and bradykinesia (slowing of movement). The laboratory is currently examining the relationship between freezing of gait and sleep disorders in people with Parkinson's disease (funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research), the mechanisms by which external cues facilitate gait initiation in PD (funded by the NIH), and the mechanisms of impaired control of repetitive movement in PD. The goal of the program is to translate this knowledge to the development, testing and implementation of novel therapies and interventions for people with disordered movement.


Mechanisms of movement Facilitation and Research By Cueing in Parkinson's Disease

Project Description.  In a large subset of patients with Parkinson's disease, one of the most disabling aspect of their disorder is a syndrome characterized by episodic impairments in the initiation of gait (termed start hesitation) in conjunction with freezing of gait (FOG). Currently there are no effective treatments for these symptoms. Yet, it is well known that under certain contexts, the provision of external cues can markedly facilitate gait initiation. This project will investigate the optimal strategies for cueing movement initiation to improve the efficacy and reliability of cueing in clinical and home settings and to develop standardized cueing protocols for portable devices. In addition, we will examine the mechanisms and pathways that enable external cues to circumvent impaired gait initiation with the goal to develop novel therapeutic interventions that facilitate these pathways.

Control of Repetitive Movement in Parkinson's Disease

Project Description.  Parkinson's disease (PD) affects more than a million people in the United States. Voluntary movement in these patients is characterized by slowness and reduced movement amplitude (bradykinesia) and a lack of spontaneous volitional movement (akinesia). The severity of bradykinesia increases with disease progression and has a significant impact on quality of life. Bradykinesia is most evident during the performance of fast repetitive movements and worsened when external cues are removed. The purpose of this project is to examine the mechanisms contributing to impaired repetitive movement in patients with PD and the effects of the two most successful treatments for PD, levodopa and high frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN-DBS), on these mechanisms.


Recent Publications

Mackinnon CD, Allen DP, Shiratori T, Rogers MW. 2013) Early and unintentional release of planned motor Actions during motor cortical preparation. PLoS One. 8(5):1-9.

Alibiglou L, Mackinnon CD. (2012) The early release of planned movement by acoustic startle can be delayed by transcranial magnetic stimulation over the motor cortex. J Physiology. 590(4):919-936.

Rogers MW, Kennedy R, Palmer S, Pawar M, Reising M, Martinez KM, Simuni T, Zhang Y, Mackinnon CD. (2011) Postural preparation prior to stepping in patients with Parkinson's disease. Journal of Neurophysiology. 106(2):915-24.

Stegemüller EL, Allen DP, Simuni T, Mackinnon CD. (2010) Rate-dependent impairments in repetitive finger movements in patients with Parkinson's disease are not due to peripheral fatigue. Neuroscience Letters. 482(1):1-6.

Carlsen AN, Mackinnon CD.(2010) Motor preparation is modulated by the temporal resolution of response timing information. Brain Research. 1322:38-49.

Allen DP, Stegemüller EL, Zadikoff C, Rosenow J, Mackinnon CD. (2010) Suppression of deep brain stimulation artifacts from the electroencephalogram by frequency-domain Hempel filtering. Clinical Neurophysiology. 121(8):1227-32.

Stegemüller EL, Simuni T, Mackinnon CD. (2009) Effect of movement frequency on repetitive finger movements in patients with Parkinson's disease. Movement Disorders. 24(8):1162-1169.

All Publications

Link to Medline search


Principal Investigator

  • Colum D. McKinnon, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Chiahao Lu

Graduate Students

  • Name here

Research Coordinators

  • Jackie Vachon
    Phone: 612-626-8052


  • Daniel Corcos (University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Mark Rogers (University of Maryland Baltimore)
  • Eric Perrault (Northwestern University)
  • John Rothwell (Institute of Neurology, London)
  • Jules Dewald (Northwestern University)
  • C.J. Heckman (Northwestern University)
  • Monica Gorassini (University of Alberta)

Volunteers and Positions


  • Project Title:

  • Project Summary:

  • Summary of what the participant will do:

  • Contact Information:

  • IRB Approval Information:

Graduate Student Positions

  • None available at this time.

Undergraduate Student Positions

  • None available at this time.

Maps and Directions

Room 510L, 5th Floor
717 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55445