Buford_John A_460x460Associate Professor and Director of the Department of Physical Therapy

College of Medicine, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Department of Physical Therapy

Faculty Affiliate, Chronic Brain Injury

Research Interests: How the brain controls movement both in the normal and pathological conditions

Research Techniques: Dr. Buford has one main focus area in the realm of neural control of movement: to better understand how the brain controls movement both in the normal and pathological conditions. With this information, the hope is to better understand the mechanisms of recovery from brain injury and to better guide treatments. His research provides basic knowledge of use for understanding stroke and traumatic brain injury.

The main approaches he uses are neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. The neurophysiology work focuses on the control of reaching. He records the recruitment of muscles in the upper limbs during skilled reaching movements using tasks that involve motor planning as well as motor performance. Specifically, he records EMG (electromyograms, electrical activity in the muscles). In the brain and brainstem, he also measures the activity of neurons for the motor control system, especially those that project to the spinal cord. Specifically, he studies the reticulospinal system, an important pathway for the control of the movement that is one of the most poorly understood.

Current Research: Evidence from Dr. Buford’s lab has shown that the reticulospinal system is involved in the control of skilled reaching movements.  This is in addition to its long-studied role on control of posture and locomotion. Currently, Dr. Buford and his research team are expanding their focus on neuroanatomy to determine that pathways for connection between the cerebral cortex and the reticulospinal system. Because stoke typically involves injury to the motor cortex, understanding these alternative pathways for control of movement is important for understanding recovery from stroke.

Dr. Buford also enjoys collaborative research in other areas of expertise, including neural control of locomotion, biomechanics of locomotion and any studies employing EMG and biomechanics.

Dr. Buford has also collaborated with Dr. D. Michele Basso in spinal injury cord research.

Active Funding:
PI: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke ("Reitculospinal Control of Reaching")

Co-PI: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Association for Medical Ultrasound

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