Faculty / Staff Resources Student Resources
University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Sook-Lei Liew PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Sook-Lei Liew PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Director of the PhD in Occupational Science and Associate Professor, joint appointments with the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, the USC Keck School of Medicine Department of Neurology and the USC Viterbi School Department of Biomedical Engineering

SHN 211
(323) 865-1755
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Web: npnl.usc.edu
Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Sook-Lei Liew completed her undergraduate education at Rice University where she earned bachelor’s degrees in Kinesiology (with a concentration in Sports Medicine) and English. She received her Master of Arts degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California with a focus on adult rehabilitation. She remained at USC and completed her PhD in Occupational Science (with a concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience) investigating, with her advisor Dr. Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, experience-dependent changes in the motor system during action observation using neuroimaging and behavioral methods.

From 2012 to 2014, Dr. Liew was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the NIH under the guidance of Dr. Leonardo Cohen, where she studied mechanisms of neural plasticity and neural repair using noninvasive brain stimulation and brain-computer interfaces, specifically, real-time fMRI neurofeedback. During her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Liew also completed collaborations at the University of Tübingen (with Drs. Niels Birbaumer and Surjo Soekadar) and at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (with Dr. Pablo Celnik) to examine the use of brain-computer interfaces with stroke patients and noninvasive brain stimulation to enhance motor learning in healthy individuals, respectively. She joined the USC Chan Division in January 2015.

Research Interests

Stroke is one of the leading causes of serious long-term adult disability around the world. Despite intensive physical and occupational therapy, many stroke survivors are unable to independently care for themselves due to persistent motor, cognitive and communicative difficulties. Large variations in lesion damage and individual characteristics (such as age, gender, physical fitness and genetic makeup) make stroke rehabilitation outcomes difficult to predict. Novel methods that predict and maximize each individual’s potential for recovery after stroke are thus desperately needed.

The goals of the Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory, under the direction of Dr. Sook-Lei Liew, are:

  1. to characterize and predict neural plasticity changes in healthy individuals and in individuals after stroke throughout the process of learning or recovery;
  2. to enhance neural plasticity or neural recovery in individuals using noninvasive brain stimulation, brain-computer interfaces and novel learning paradigms; and
  3. to personalize the use of plasticity-inducing paradigms in order to capitalize on each individual’s unique learning or recovery potential.

These goals support the overall mission of the laboratory, which is to enhance neural plasticity in a wide population of individuals in order to improve their quality of life and engagement in meaningful activities.


Selected Publications


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