Jess Reynolds - PhD Candidate

University of Western Australia

Jess Reynolds is a PhD candidate in the School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health at the University of Western Australia (UWA). She has completed a Bachelor of Science (Hons), and a Bachelor of Science and Technology at UWA and a Specialist Certificate in Clinical Research (Neuroscience) at the University of Melbourne. Jess began her PhD research to investigate potential neurological mechanisms of DCD in 2013.

Research interests include: neurodevelopmental disorders, childhood movement disorders, motor learning and motor control, infant motor development.

PhD Research

Title: Imitation and motor imagery in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: investigation of mirror neuron functioning.

The purpose of this research is to investigate recent evidence suggesting deficits in mirror neuron system (MNS) function as an underlying cause of the motor impairments associated with DCD. Because mirror neurons (a cluster of neurons in the brain) fire when we observe, imagine, and perform an action performed by another, they are thought to be our primary modality of learning movement skills through visual learning. This research project will be broken into three components:

  1. A behavioural assessment of imitation and motor imagery (behavioural measures of MNS function).
  2. An examination of the neurology of these processes using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and resting state fMRI (rsfMRI).
  3. The development and piloting of a targeted evidence based intervention program, based on current best practice and the behavioural and fMRI study results. 

This collaborative research aims to increase the understanding surrounding the aetiology of DCD, inform treatments that are relevant and suitable for clinical practice, and facilitate maximum benefit for children with DCD. We are currently recruiting children for studies 1 and 2.