Symposium on motor learning and PhD-defense Melanie Kleynen 20 April 2018

On 20th of April 2018, Melanie Kleynen successfully defended her PhD- thesis entitled “Perspectives on theory and application of implicit and explicit motor learning in neurological rehabilitation”. The overall aim of this thesis was to provide therapists in neurological rehabilitation with knowledge and tools to support the justified and tailored use of motor learning in daily clinical practice. To achieve this aim, the thesis was divided into two parts. The aim of the first part was to develop a theoretical basis for applying motor learning in clinical practice, using the implicit‐explicit distinction as a conceptual basis. Afterwards, in the second part, strategies identified in first part were tested for feasibility and potential effects in people with stroke.

In the morning, prior to the PhD-defense, a symposium was organized with international speakers on the topic of motor learning. Topics that addressed were: implicit motor learning in general (prof. Rich Masters), the application of analogy learning in stroke patients (drs. Li-Juan Jie) and patients with Parkinson’s Disease (prof. Mark Wilson), skill transfer following the CO-OP Approach (dr. Sara McEwen) and the use of internal and external focus instructions (drs. Elmar Kal). About 130 participants attended the symposium. These were professionals (PT, OT, sport therapists), researchers, lectures and many students from various disciplines.

Afterwards, during the defense of the thesis, opponents from different fields of motor learning (e.g., rehabilitation medicine, psychology, physiotherapy, movement sciences, neurorehabilitation) proposed questions. The topics addressed by the opponents were among others related to the link between motor learning and neuroplasticity, the influence of neuropsychological factors on the process of motor learning, the translation of the results of the thesis for education and practical application of motor learning in within the studies of the PhD-project and clinical practice.

We would like to thank all speakers and the opponents for the contribution and all participants for the lively discussion during the symposium and the breaks.

It was a successful and very inspiring day!

If you would like to receive a copy of the PhD-thesis, please contact Melanie (

An impression of the day (pictures) and a summary of the thesis (factsheet) can be downloaded below.