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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology


Photo of Joseph Francis

Joseph T. Francis, PhD

Assistant Professor

Physiology and Pharmacology

Tel: (718) 270-6337


Sensory Motor Integration and Brain Machine Interfacing

My research interest is centered on developing a fully integrated Brain Machine Interface (BMI) for the control of prosthetic limbs. I feel that our best chance of accomplishing such a goal will involve a unique strategy and point of view, one that can be gained by exploiting several experimental models. Much of my work involves rats, monkeys and humans making reaching movements while interacting with robotic systems. The robotic systems are used to produce novel dynamical situations allowing me to ask questions about motor learning and how different brain regions respond to such learning.

For further information, see

  • So, P., Francis, J. T., Netoff, T. I., Gluckman, B. J., and Schiff, S. J. (1998). Periodic orbits: a new language for neuronal dynamics. Biophys. J. 74, 2776-2785.Francis, J. T., So, P., Gluckman, B. J., and Schiff, S. J. (2001). Differentiability implies continuity in neuronal dynamics. PHYSICA. D. 148, 175-181.
  • Jerger, K. K., Netoff, T. I., Francis, J. T., Sauer, T., Pecora, L., Weinstein, S. L., and Schiff, S. J. (2001). Early seizure detection. J. Clin. Neurophysiol. 18, 259-268.           Francis, J. T., Gluckman, B. J., and Schiff, S. J. (2003). Sensitivity of neurons to weak electric fields. J. Neurosci. 23, 7255-7261.
  • Donchin, O., Francis, J. T., and Shadmehr, R. (2003). Quantifying generalization from trial-by-trial behavior of adaptive systems that learn with basis functions: theory and experiments in human motor control. J. Neurosci. 23, 9032-9045.
  • Francis, J. T., and Chapin, J. K. (2004). Force field apparatus for investigating movement control in small animals. IEEE. Trans. Biomed. Eng 51, 963-965.
  • Francis, J. T. (2005). Influence of the inter-reach-interval on motor learning. Exp. Brain. Res. 167, 128-131.
  • Francis, J. T., and Chapin, J. K. (2006). Neural ensemble activity from multiple brain regions predicts kinematic and dynamic variables in a multiple force field reaching task. IEEE. Trans. Neural. Syst. Rehabil. Eng 14, 172-174
  • Francis, J. T. (2008). Error generalization as a function of velocity and duration: human reaching movements. Exp. Brain. Res. 186, 23-37.
  • Francis, J. T., Xu, S., and Chapin, J. K. (2008). Proprioceptive and cutaneous representations of the rat Ventral Posterolateral (VPL) thalamus. J. Neurophysiol. 99, in press.

List of Publications (Pub Med)