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Monica A. Perez, P.T., Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery


Monica A. Perez, P.T., Ph.D.
Monica A. Perez, P.T., Ph.D.

Monica Perez, P.T., Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery. She holds a secondary faculty position with the Department of Physical Therapy and with the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation where she studies mechanisms involved in the control of movement in healthy humans and in individuals with spinal cord injury.

Dr. Perez received a Ph.D. in physical therapy from University of Miami School of Medicine in 2003. She attended the University of Copenhagen as a post-doctoral fellow at the laboratory of Professor Jens B. Nielsen until 2005. She joined the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the NIH in 2005 as a research fellow working with Dr. Leonardo G. Cohen until 2008. Her research has focused on studying adaptations in motor cortical and spinal cord circuits during acquisition of a novel motor skill using upper and lower limb muscles. This work has been complemented by studies aiming to better understand modulation in motor cortical circuits, including intracortical and interhemispheric interactions between primary motor cortices, during voluntary movement.

Research Interests

Motor Control in Humans with and without Spinal Cord Injury

The Perez laboratory has three ongoing main projects related to the control of voluntary movement in humans with and without SCI. The first project examines the contribution of the primary motor cortex, the corticospinal system, and subcortical pathways to the control precision and power grip. Using noninvasive cortical and cervicomedullary stimulation we examined motor evoked potentials and the activity in intracortical and subcortical pathways targeting an intrinsic hand muscle when grasping a small cylinder between the thumb and index finger, during power grip, and during index finger abduction. We examine bilateral reach-to-grasp movement asymmetries after SCI. Using kinematics and multichannel electromyographic (EMG) recordings we study unilateral and bilateral self-paced and ballistic reach-to-grasp movements of a small and large cylinder in individuals with incomplete cervical SCI and uninjured controls. Bilateral EMG and force interactions guided by single and dual targets are also examined.

The second project aims to examine the organization of paired-pulse TMS-induced I-waves after SCI. Paired-pulse TMS of the human motor cortex results in consecutive facilitatory motor evoked potential peaks in surface EMG in intact humans. We examine the effects of an incomplete cervical SCI on early (first) and late (second and third) motor evoked potential peaks in resting and voluntary active intrinsic finger muscles. Experiments are conducted in parallel to further understand eh effect of col rotation of these mechanisms.

The third project aims to use spike-time dependent like plasticity to enhance the activity of residual corticospinal projections after SCI. The corticospinal tract is an important target for motor recovery after SCI in animals and humans. Voluntary motor output depends on the efficacy of synapses between corticospinal axons and spinal motoneurons, which can be modulated by the precise timing of neuronal spikes. Using noninvasive techniques, we developed tailored protocols for precise timing of the arrival of descending and peripheral volleys at corticospinal-motoneuronal synapses of upper and lower limb muscle in humans with incomplete SCI. Modulation of residual corticospinal-motoneuronal synapses may present a novel therapeutic target for enhancing voluntary motor output in motor disorders affecting the corticospinal tract.


Monica A. Perez, P.T., Ph.D.

  • The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
    1095 NW 14th Terrace (R-48)
    Miami, FL 33136
  • (305) 243-7119
  • (305) 243-3913


Dr. Monica Perez Publishes on Acute Intermittent Hypoxia (04/24/2018)

Outstanding Neurorehabilitation Clinician Scientist Award to Dr. Monica Perez (01/22/2018)

Dr. Monica Perez’s Team Shows First Evidence of Using Cortical Targets to Improve Motor Function (06/13/2017)

Curriculum Vitae



Department of Neurological Surgery

Department of Physical Therapy

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation


Name Title Email
Kiara Melendez Clinical Research Coordinator
Bradley Deforest Senior Research Associate
Yuming Lei, Ph.D. Senior Research Associate
Audrey Wilson Senior Research Associate
Francisco Benavides, M.D. Assistant Scientist
Hounsh Munshi Research Associate
Bing Chen Post Doctoral Associate
Hang Jin Jo, Ph.D. Post Doctoral Associate
Sina Sangari Post Doctoral Associate
Roberta Vastano Post Doctoral Associate
Jeffrey W. Serville Undergraduate Student