Meet Tamar Flash, Ph.D.

Tamar Flash, Ph.D. discussed Brain Map: How the Brain Orchestrates Movement on SftPublic’s Contemporary Science program April 09, 2013.

Tamar Flash is the Dr. Hymie Moross Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, Weizmann Institute, Israel. She was a 2012-2013 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Research when she appeared on Contemporary Science to talk about her research and the work of her former mentor at MIT, Dr. Emilio Bizzi.

Professor Flash received her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983. After postdoctoral studies at MIT she joined the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. She was appointed full professor there in 1998 and served as Chair of the department in 2004-2007.

Dr. Flash is a leading expert in the analysis of mental patterns that characterize the brain’s mapping and execution of motion, a particularly complex engagement of neuronal networks. Her lab analyzes and develops mathematical models of arm-hand movements in human subjects. The results of this research are applied to rehabilitation of motor disorders, to the study of motor development, and to the design of advanced robotics. Dr. Flash’s lab has also studied the mental mapping behind the coordination of octopus arms. And Dr. Flash’s Weizmann Institute lab, together with colleagues at Hebrew University, have collaborated on the development of improved robotic movement, in and out of water. That work is funded by the United States Navy and more recently by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Dr. Flash’s research in computational neuroscience focuses on modeling the planning and control strategies underlying the brain’s generation of arm movements. Her lab uses data from precise observation of human subjects to develop mathematical models characterizing the ways in which the human brain plans the movements of the hand and arm. These studies have led to surprising insights about the geometric properties of brain representations of movement. Her work is applied to both rehabilitation and advanced robotics. Dr. Flash’s work with patients has revealed new information about how neurological damage results in impaired movement-planning abilities.

In the area of robotics, Dr. Flash develops new control strategies for robotic systems. Funded by the United States Navy ,the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and more recently by the EU FP7 Octopus research project, collaboration between Professor Flash, Professor Hochner from the Hebrew University and other European teams is studying the control of movement in the octopus, producing important models for developing flexible robotic systems.

article by Tamar Flash et al on geometry of movement timing: Movement Timing and Invariance Arise from Several Geometries