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Simon Giszter

Simon Giszter, PhD


Department: Neurobiology & Anatomy


  • PhD - University of Oregon Institute of Neuroscience
  • Cambridge University

Dr. Giszter is a professor in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine. Prior to coming to Drexel, he spent several years studying brain and cognitive science with Emilio Bizzi at MIT, first as a postdoctoral researcher, and subsequently as a research scientist. He also teaches in the School for Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems at Drexel. He has long collaborated with members of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Center and with laboratories in the School of Bioengineering, Science & Health Systems and the College of Engineering.

Research Overview

Research interests: Spinal cord organization and control of limb biomechanics.

Lab Members

Research Postdocs:
Corey Hart, PhD  (Neuroscience, PSU)
Weiguo Song, PhD (Control Theory and Engineering, Beijing)

Graduate students bioengineers:
Arun Ramakrishnan
Ubong Ime Udoekwere
TaeGyo Kim
FuHan Hsieh
Chintan Oza

Graduate students neuroscientists:
Dwight Higgin
Tanuj Gulati

Technical staff:
Michael Smeltzer, MS

Research Interests

Spinal cord organization and control of limb biomechanics


Our laboratory's research focuses on basic mechanisms of motor control in spinal cord, on corticospinal interactions and particularly on spinal cord modularity in relation to these. In frogs we are examining the neural mechanisms supporting modularity and how modules are assembled to adjust voluntary motor behaviors. In rodent models we are assessing the reorganization and plasticity of lumbar controls and of cortical motor organization. We investigate changes in response to spinal transection in neonates. Such changes support recovery of stepping in some of these rats as adults. We are extending these findings to experiments with robotic and brain-machine-interface based adaptation and rehabilitation.  These interests have steered the lab also to collaborations that explore new techniques and tools for neural bridging, neural recording and stimulation. Work is funded by NIH, by NSF and by the Neilsen Foundation.

In the Media


Selected Publications

"Trunk Control during Standing Reach: A Dynamical System Analysis of Movement Strategies in Patients with Mechanical Low Back Pain"
Silfies SP, Bhattacharya A, Biely S, Smith S, Giszter SF
Gait and Posture, 2008.

"Trunk sensorimotor cortex is essential for hindlimb weight-supported locomotion in adult rats spinalized as P1/P2 neonates"
Giszter SF, Davies MR, Ramakrishnan A, Udoekwere UI, Kargo WJ
J. Neurophysiology 100(2):839-51, 2008.

"Coordination strategies for limb forces during weight-bearing locomotion in normal rats, and in rats spinalized as neonates"
Giszter SF, Davies MR, and Graziani V
Exp. Brain Research 190(1):53-69, 2008.

"Individual premotor drive pulses, not time-varying synergies, are the units of adjustment for limb trajectories constructed in spinal-cord"
Kargo WJ and Giszter SF
J. Neuroscience. 28(10):2409-25, 2008.

"Primitives, Premotor Drives and Pattern Generation: a combined Computational and Neuroethological Perspective"
Giszter SF, Patil V, and Hart CB
Prog. Brain Res. 165:325-349, 2007.

"Motor strategies used by rats spinalized at birth to maintain stance in response to imposed perturbations"
Giszter SF, Davies MR, Graziani VG
J. Neurophysiol. 97(4):2663-75, 2007.

"Towards a definition of recovery of function"
Smeraski C, Tessler A, Giszter SF
J. Neurotrauma. 21(4):405-13, 2004.

"Modular premotor drives and unit bursts as primitives for frog motor behaviors"
Hart CB and Giszter SF
J. Neuroscience 24(22):5269-82, 2004.

"Modeling of dynamic controls in the frog wiping reflex: force-field level controls"
Giszter SF, and Kargo WJ
Neurocomputing 38-40:1239-1247, 2001.

"Dense mapping of frog lumbar spinal cord: organization of force and muscle use"
Giszter SF, Loeb E, Mussa-Ivaldi FA and Bizzi E
Human Movement Science 19 :597-626, 2000.

"Conserved temporal dynamics and vector superposition of primitives in frog wiping reflexes during spontaneous extensor deletions"
Giszter SF and Kargo WJ
Neurocomputing 32-33:775-783, 2000.

"Afferent roles in hindlimb wiping reflex: free limb kinematics and motor patterns"
Kargo, WJ and Giszter SF
J. Neurophysiology 83(3):1480-1501, 2000.

"Rapid corrections of aimed movements by combination of force-field primitives"
Kargo WJ and Giszter SF
J. Neurosci. 20:409-426, 2000.


"Motor Primitives"
Giszter SF
Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. (L.R. Squire, Editor). Oxford: Academic Press, 2009.

"Spinal Cord Injury: Present and Future Therapeutic Devices and Prostheses"
Giszter SF
Neurotherapeutics 5(1):147-162, 2008.

Motor Primitives Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks
Giszter SF
(2nd ed) MIT Press, 2003.

"A neurobiological perspective on design of humanoid robots and their components"
Giszter SF, Moxon KA, Rybak I, and Chapin JK
IEEE Intelligent Systems 15(4): 64-69, 2000.

"Intraspinal microstimulation: techniques, perspectives and prospects for FES"
Giszter SF, Grill W, Lemay M, Mushahwar V, and Prochazka A
pp 101-138 in Neural prostheses for restoration of Sensory and motor function ed. KA Moxon and JK Chapin CRC Press, 2000.

Contact Information

Research Office

Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy
2900 W. Queen Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19129
Phone: 215.991.8412
Fax: 215.843.9082