Miriam Spering

Degrees / Designations 

Dr. rer. nat. (Univ. Giessen, Germany) M.A. (Univ. Heidelberg, Germany) B.A. (Univ. Konstanz, Germany & Exeter Univ., England)

Email Address 
Phone 
604 675 8871
Mailing Address 
Blusson Spinal Cord Centre 818 W10th Avenue Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

Biography

Academic Appointment 
Associate Professor
Body Locations and Systems 
Eyes and Vision
Other Areas of Research 
Neuroscience of Movement
Movement Disorders
Visual Disorders

Dr. Spering holds a Bachelors and Masters degree (Diploma) in Psychology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and a PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Giessen, Germany. She completed a postdoc at New York University and joined UBC in 2011. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2017. Her group focuses on the interaction between vision and movement and investigates sensorimotor function and failure in clinical populations such as patients with Parkinson's disease, stroke or amblyopia.

Current Projects 

Research in Dr. Spering's group focuses on how the brain uses visual information to control movements. Her group studies both simple eye movements towards an object of interest as well as complex sequences of eye, hand and body movements essential for everyday activities ranging from playing sports to driving a car. Her work focuses on how what we see – our visual perception of an object's motion, form and color, for instance – guides what we do, and how our movements, in turn, affect the way we see. Her group also studies the cognitive factors that influence eye movements, such as reward and attention. The basic research conducted in Dr. Spering's group has many clinical applications. For instance, a type of eye movement known as smooth pursuit is used to stabilize gaze on a moving object of interest and critically assists vision. Deficits in the perception of visual motion and the tracking of moving objects with smooth pursuit eye movements have been described in many neurological, psychiatric and developmental conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and strabismic amblyopia. One of the current goals of Dr. Spering's research is to assess whether training can compensate abnormalities in vision and eye movements in these patients. Her lab collaborates with the UBC Baseball team to develop vision training - a tool that can potentially be used in the rehabilitation of patients with disorders affecting vision and movement. Clinical collaborators are at the UBC Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre, BC Children's Hospital and the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in New York.

Publications