Paul D. Marasco,  Ph.D.

Paul D. Marasco, Ph.D.

Associate Staff

Lerner Research Institute, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195

Marasco Laboratory


In our research, we investigate the sensory nervous system, with a specific focus on systems level mechanisms of brain organization and neural plasticity.

A major interest of our laboratory is sensory integration with prosthetic devices. We investigate a variety of ways to “close the loop” and provide physiologically relevant touch and proprioceptive feedback for artificial limbs. We accomplish this by using different model systems and translational approaches, from electrophysiological cortical mapping to psychophysical and cognitive studies, to provide insight into how sensory feedback can be returned from a prosthesis to an amputee through physiologically appropriate neural channels.

Our work focuses on establishing a mechanistic understanding of how sensory channels organize and integrate to establish a cognitive sense of self, embodiment and awareness of limb movement. We then work to interact and utilize these sensory/cognitive pathways to drive cognitive engagement with artificial limbs for amputees.

Lay Summary

Our team works to understand the sensory nervous system. As part of that work, we are developing new ways to provide such sensations as natural touch and movement feedback for artificial limbs. Our goal is to be able to provide amputees with a better intuitive sense of the movement of their artificial limbs, which will enable them to engage with their environment in a more meaningful way, and improve their quality of life.

View publications for Paul D. Marasco, PhD

Peer-Reviewed Scientific Research Papers

P. D. Marasco, J. S. Hebert, J. W. Sensinger, D. T. Beckler, Z. C. Thumser, A. W. Shehata, H. E. Williams, K. R. Wilson, Neurorobotic fusion of prosthetic touch, kinesthesia, and movement in bionic upper limbs promotes intrinsic brain behaviorsSci. Robot. 6, eabf3368 (2021).

Schofield JS, Battraw MA, Parker ASR, Pilarski PM, Sensinger JW, Marasco PD. Embodied Cooperation to Promote Forgiving Interactions With Autonomous Machines. Front Neurorobot. 2021 Apr 9;15:661603. doi: 10.3389/fnbot.2021.661603. eCollection 2021. PMID: 33897401 Free PMC article. 

Keri MI, Shehata AW, Marasco PD, Hebert JS, Vette AH. A Cost-Effective Inertial Measurement System for Tracking Movement and Triggering Kinesthetic Feedback in Lower-Limb Prosthesis Users. Sensors (Basel). 2021 Mar 6;21(5):1844. doi: 10.3390/s21051844. PMID: 33800790 Free PMC article. 

Ferrari F, Shell CE, Thumser ZC, Clemente F, Plow EB, Cipriani C, Marasco PD. Proprioceptive Augmentation With Illusory Kinaesthetic Sensation in Stroke Patients Improves Movement Quality in an Active Upper Limb Reach-and-Point Task. Front Neurorobot. 2021 Mar 1;15:610673. doi: 10.3389/fnbot.2021.610673. eCollection 2021.PMID: 33732129 Free PMC article. 

Shell CE, Christie BP, Marasco PD, Charkhkar H, Triolo RJ. Lower-Limb Amputees Adjust Quiet Stance in Response to Manipulations of Plantar Sensation. Front Neurosci. 2021 Feb 18;15:611926. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.611926. eCollection 2021. PMID: 33679300 Free PMC article. 

Schofield JS, Shell CE, Beckler DT, Thumser ZC, Marasco PD. Long-Term Home-Use of Sensory-Motor-Integrated Bidirectional Bionic Prosthetic Arms Promotes Functional, Perceptual, and Cognitive Changes. Front Neurosci. 2020 Feb 19;14:120. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2020.00120. eCollection 2020. PMID: 32140096 Free PMC article. 

Fabrication and application of an adjustable myoelectric transhumeral prosthetic socket. Schofield JS, Schoepp KR, Stobbe M, Marasco PD, Hebert JS. Prosthet Orthot Int. 2019 Oct;43(5):564-567. doi: 10.1177/0309364619836353. Epub 2019 Mar 29. PMID: 30922181 

Ereifej ES, Shell CE, Schofield JS, Charkhkar H, Cuberovic I, Dorval AD, Graczyk EL, Kozai TDY, Otto KJ, Tyler DJ, Welle CG, Widge AS, Zariffa J, Moritz CT, Bourbeau DJ, Marasco PD. Neural engineering: the process, applications, and its role in the future of medicine. J Neural Eng. 2019 Nov 12;16(6):063002. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/ab4869. PMID: 31557730 Free PMC article. 

Christie BP, Charkhkar H, Shell CE, Marasco PD, Tyler DJ, Triolo RJ. Visual inputs and postural manipulations affect the location of somatosensory percepts elicited by electrical stimulation. Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 12;9(1):11699. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-47867-1. PMID: 31406122 Free PMC article. 

Shehata AW, Keri MI, Gomez M, Marasco PD, Vette AH, Hebert JS. Skin Stretch Enhances Illusory Movement in Persons with Lower-Limb Amputation. IEEE Int Conf Rehabil Robot. 2019 Jun;2019:1233-1238. doi: 10.1109/ICORR.2019.8779477. PMID: 31374798 

Beckler DT, Thumser ZC, Schofield JS, Marasco PD. Using sensory discrimination in a foraging-style task to evaluate human upper-limb sensorimotor performance. Sci Rep. 2019 Apr 9;9(1):5806. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-42086-0. PMID: 30967581 Free PMC article. 

Schofield JS, Shell CE, Thumser ZC, Beckler DT, Nataraj R, Marasco PD. Characterization of the Sense of Agency over the Actions of Neural-machine Interface-operated Prostheses. J Vis Exp. 2019 Jan 7;(143). doi: 10.3791/58702. PMID: 30663709 

Beckler DT, Thumser ZC, Schofield JS, Marasco PD. Reliability in evaluator-based tests: using simulation-constructed models to determine contextually relevant agreement thresholds. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2018 Nov 19;18(1):141. doi: 10.1186/s12874-018-0606-7. PMID: 30453897 Free PMC article. 

Downey JE, Weiss JM, Flesher SN, Thumser ZC, Marasco PD, Boninger ML, Gaunt RA, Collinger JL. Implicit Grasp Force Representation in Human Motor Cortical Recordings. Front Neurosci. 2018 Oct 31;12:801. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00801. eCollection 2018. PMID: 30429772 Free PMC article. 

Schoepp KR, Schofield JS, Home D, Dawson MR, Lou E, Keri M, Marasco PD, Hebert JS. Real time monitoring of transtibial elevated vacuum prostheses: A case series on socket air pressure. PLoS One. 2018 Oct 22;13(10):e0202716. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202716. eCollection 2018. PMID: 30346953 Free PMC article.

Charkhkar H, Shell CE, Marasco PD, Pinault GJ, Tyler DJ, Triolo RJ. High-density peripheral nerve cuffs restore natural sensation to individuals with lower-limb amputations. J Neural Eng. 2018 Oct;15(5):056002. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aac964. Epub 2018 Jun 1. PMID: 29855427 

Thumser ZC, Slifkin AB, Beckler DT, Marasco PD. Fitts' Law in the Control of Isometric Grip Force With Naturalistic Targets. Front Psychol. 2018 Apr 26;9:560. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00560. eCollection 2018. PMID: 29773999 Free PMC article. 

Marasco PD, Hebert JS, Sensinger JW, Shell CE, Schofield JS, Thumser ZC, Nataraj R, Beckler DT, Dawson MR, Blustein DH, Gill S, Mensh BD, Granja-Vazquez R, Newcomb MD, Carey JP, Orzell BM. Illusory movement perception improves motor control for prosthetic hands. Sci Transl Med. 2018 Mar 14;10(432):eaao6990. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aao6990.PMID: 29540617 Free PMC article. 

McDaniel J, Lombardo LM, Foglyano KM, Marasco PD, J Triolo R. Cycle Training Using Implanted Neural Prostheses: Team Cleveland. Eur J Transl Myol. 2017 Dec 6;27(4):7087. doi: 10.4081/ejtm.2017.7087. eCollection 2017 Dec 5. PMID: 29299221 Free PMC article. 

Marasco PD. Using proprioception to get a better grasp on embodiment. J Physiol. 2018 Jan 15;596(2):133-134. doi: 10.1113/JP275468. Epub 2017 Dec 28. PMID: 29194626 Free PMC article. 

Marasco PD, Bourbeau DJ, Shell CE, Granja-Vazquez R, Ina JG. The neural response properties and cortical organization of a rapidly adapting muscle sensory group response that overlaps with the frequencies that elicit the kinesthetic illusion. PLoS One. 2017 Nov 28;12(11):e0188559. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188559. eCollection 2017. PMID: 29182648 Free PMC article. 

McDaniel J, Lombardo LM, Foglyano KM, Marasco PD, Triolo RJ. Setting the pace: insights and advancements gained while preparing for an FES bike race. J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2017 Nov 17;14(1):118. doi: 10.1186/s12984-017-0326-y. PMID: 29149885 Free PMC article. 

Schofield JS, Schoepp KR, Williams HE, Carey JP, Marasco PD, Hebert JS. Characterization of interfacial socket pressure in transhumeral prostheses: A case series. PLoS One. 2017 Jun 2;12(6):e0178517. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178517. eCollection 2017.PMID: 28575012 Free PMC article. 

Schofield JS, Evans KR, Hebert JS, Marasco PD, Carey JP. The effect of biomechanical variables on force sensitive resistor error: Implications for calibration and improved accuracy. J Biomech. 2016 Mar 21;49(5):786-792. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2016.01.022. Epub 2016 Feb 9. PMID: 26903413 Free PMC article. 

Hebert JS, Olson JL, Morhart MJ, Dawson MR, Marasco PD, Kuiken TA, Chan KM. Novel targeted sensory reinnervation technique to restore functional hand sensation after transhumeral amputation. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2014 Jul;22(4):765-73. doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2013.2294907. Epub 2013 Dec 18. PMID: 24760915 

Fox JD, Capadona JR, Marasco PD, Rowan SJ. (2013) Bioinspired Water-Enhanced Mechanical Gradient Nanocomposite Films That Mimic the Architecture and Properties of the Squid Beak. J Am Chem Soc.

Marasco PD, Kim K, Colgate JE, Peshkin MA, Kuiken TA. (2011) Robotic touch shifts perception of embodiment to a prosthesis in Targeted Reinnervation amputees. Brain. 134: 747-58

Marasco PD, and Kuiken TA. (2010) Amputation with median nerve redirection (Targeted Reinnervation) reactivates forepaw barrel subfield in rats. Journal of Neuroscience 30:16008-16014.

Marasco PD, Schultz AE, Kuiken TA. (2009) Sensory capacity of reinnervated skin after redirection of amputated upper limb nerves to the chest. Brain. 132(pt 6): 1441-8.

Schultz AE, Marasco PD, Kuiken TA. (2009) Vibrotactile detection thresholds for chest skin of amputees following targeted reinnervation surgery. Brain Research. 1251:121-9.

Kuiken TA*, Marasco PD*, Lock BA, Harden RN, Dewald JP. (2007) Redirection of cutaneous sensation from the hand to the chest skin of human amputees with targeted reinnervation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A. 104: 20061-6. (*these authors contributed equally to this work)

Marasco PD, Tsuruda PR, Bautista DM, Catania KC. (2007) The fine structure of Eimer’s organ in the coast mole (Scapanus orarius). Anatomical Record. 290: 437-448.

Marasco PD, and Catania KC. (2007) Response properties of primary afferents supplying Eimer’s organ. Journal of Experimental Biology. 210: 765-780

Kuiken TA, Miller LA, Lipschutz RD, Lock BA, Stubblefield K, Marasco PD, Zhou P, Dumanian GA. (2007) Targeted reinnervation for enhanced prosthetic arm function in a woman with proximal amputation. The Lancet 369: 371-380

Marasco PD, Tsuruda PR, Bautista DM, Julius D, Catania KC. (2006) Neuroanatomical evidence for segregation of nerve fibers conveying light touch and pain sensation in Eimer's organ of the mole. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A. 103: 9339-9344

Henry EC, Marasco PD, Catania KC. (2005) Plasticity of the cortical dentition representation after tooth extraction in naked mole-rats. Journal of Comparative Neurology 485: 64-74

Appel, B., P. Marasco, L. McClung and A.J. Latimer (2003) lunatic fringe Regulates delta- notch induction of hypochord in zebrafish. Developmental Dynamics 228: 281-286

Crish, S.D., C. Comer, P. D. Marasco and K.C. Catania (2003) Somatosensation in the superior colliculus of the star-nosed mole. Journal of Comparative Neurology 464: 415-425

Book Chapters

Marasco PD., “Targeted Sensory Reinnervation”, chapter 8, in: Targeted Muscle Reinnervation, Kuiken and Schultz, Eds. CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, 2014 ISBN 978-1-4398-6080-9

Capadona, JR and PD Marasco “Brain Response to Neural Prostheses”, chapter 6, in: The Textbook of Neural Repair, Seltzer et al. Eds, 2nd Edition. (in-press)

03/10/2022 |  

BME Researcher Receives Award from the Clinical Research Forum for Pioneering Bionic Arm Study

Dr. Marasco was honored for engineering a prosthetic that allows the wearer to “think” and function like an able-bodied person.

09/01/2021 |  

Researchers Develop Bionic Arm that Restores Natural Behaviors in Patients with Amputations

Dr. Marasco and his collaborators designed a novel system that combines intuitive motor control, touch and grip kinesthesia for patients with upper-limb amputations.