Wolfe Puts HWS at the Forefront of Stroke Research – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Wolfe Puts HWS at the Forefront of Stroke Research

Professor receives important grant for neurological pilot study

(April 5, 2005) GENEVA, N.Y.—For years, victims of stroke are forced to suffer through both mental and physical anguish as they attempt to put their lives back on track. A stroke can even cripple a victim’s motor function, making it impossible for him or her to perform simple, everyday tasks.

Uta Wolfe, assistant professor of psychology, is trying to change all that. She was recently awarded an important and highly competitive grant from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

The award, totaling some $202,500, will be used to conduct a small, three-year pilot study into the use of operant conditioning to reverse visuomotor abnormalities. The grant is also a boon for students, because Wolfe intends to use the project as a way to introduce undergraduates to clinical research and computer modeling.

The request for the grant came after Wolfe noted that stroke victims often become conditioned against using certain muscles or performing specific tasks because of the risk of failure or the pain and stress associated with those actions. The grant funds an experimental program designed to reverse this negative conditioning, granting many victims of stroke a chance to move on with their lives. Wolfe noted that she will be collaborating with another researcher, Larry Maloney from New York University, for the duration of the project.

NINDS is one of the National Institutes of Heath (NIH) and a subsidiary of the Department of Health and Human Services. It supports research on healthy and diseased brains and the spinal cord. NINDS leads the country’s fight against stroke from the campus of the NIH in Bethesda, Md. In the past NINDS has patronized research into conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, and many others.

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Wolfe's work and the grant were featured in the Wednesday, April 6, Rochester Business Journal.