Olivia A. Kim

Assistant Professor of Neuroscience



Carnegie Science Hall, Room 409




  • B.A. Psychology, Rutgers University (2014)
  • M.A. Psychology, University of Pennsylvania (2015)
  • Ph.D. Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine (2020)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Psychology, Princeton University (2023)

Courses Taught

  • NSPY 363 Physiological Psychology

Research Interests

Many of us take for granted the ability to act out our motor plans, but few of us ever achieve the degree of skill mastery that our society exalts in musicians and star athletes. What are the neural and cognitive processes that allow us to attain this degree of expertise? And what goes on during neurological degeneration and disease to undermine our motor systems and make the activities of daily living (e.g., eating, dressing, etc.) difficult or impossible.

Broadly speaking, my research program aims to identify and explore the neural and cognitive processes that give rise to this great diversity of human motor skill and experience. To this end, my work interrogates the processes that support motor control and learning, ranging from implicit mechanisms that automatically calibrate our movements to explicitly-generated plans that we use to overcome obstacles that we recognize in the environment. This research relies on participation from undergraduate students here at Bates, people in the general population, and folks with neurological disease, who all contribute to building representative datasets that can speak to motor performance and learning in health and disease.

My dissertation work focused on mechanisms of learning in the cerebellum, which contributes to motor control and emotion regulation, among other processes. Much of my work is informed by theories of error-based, cerebellar learning, and I have ongoing research projects related to spinocerebellar ataxia. I am also interested in processes and disorders including but not limited to reinforcement learning, Parkinson’s Disease, and Functional Movement Disorder.

Keywords: cerebellum, learning, memory, adaptation, planning, implicit and explicit awareness



  1. Al-Fawakhiri N, Ma A, Taylor JA, & Kim OA (2023). Exploring the role of task success in implicit motor adaptation. Journal of Neurophysiology. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00061.2023
  2. Kim OA, Forrence AD, & McDougle SD (2022). Motor learning without movement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(30). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2204379119
  3. Achilly NP, He L, Kim OA, Ohmae S, Wojaczynski GJ, Lin T, Sillitoe RV, Medina JF, & Zoghbi HY. (2021) Deleting Mecp2 from the cerebellum rather than its neuronal subtypes causes a delay in motor learning in mice. eLife. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.64833
  4. Kim OA, Ohmae S, & Medina JF. (2020). A cerebello-olivary signal for negative prediction error is sufficient to cause extinction of associative motor learning. Nature Neuroscience, 23. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-020-00732-1
  5. Heiney SA, Ohmae S, Kim OA, Medina JF (2017). Single-unit extracellular recording from the cerebellum during eyeblink conditioning in head-fixed mice. In: Sillitoe, R. (eds) Extracellular Recording Approaches. Neuromethods, vol 134. Humana Press, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-7549-5_3
  6. Barker DJ, Striano BM, Coffey KC, Root DH, Pawlak AP, Kim OA, Kulik J, Fabbricatore AT, & West MO (2015). Sensitivity to self-administered cocaine within the lateral preoptic-rostral lateral hypothalamic continuum. Brain Structure and Function, 220. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-014-0736-6