Johnson, Brian, PhD, OTR/L

Clinical Interests

Dr. Johnson’s areas of interest include motor skill learning, neurorehabilitation following neurological injury and/or disease, and the development of clinical outcome measures.

Research Interests

Dr. Johnson’s laboratory has four primary areas of interest: (1) investigating the mechanisms underlying the formation, retention and generalization of motor skills; (2) developing novel behavioral and neuromodulatory interventions that target these mechanisms; (3) translating these interventions to restore motor function and increase community participation of individuals with neurological damage and (4) developing and/or refining clinical outcome measures to document improvements in motor function and community participation in individuals with neurological damage. He utilizes behavioral, neuromodulatory and neuroimaging methods to approach these four primary areas of research interest.

Teaching Roles

Dr. Johnson is a guest lecturer of neuroscience in the Clinical Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program. He also mentors OTD students who work in his laboratory.


2022: Postdoctoral Fellowship in Neuroscience, The National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke
2019: PhD in Physical Rehabilitation Science (Neuromotor Control Concentration), The University of Maryland School of Medicine
2012: Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
2011: Bachelor of Science in Occupational Science & Technology, The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


Dr. Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree in occupational science and technology in 2011 and his master’s degree in occupational therapy in 2012 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His thesis focused on the development of a measure of care coordination for individuals with acquired brain injuries and their caregivers. Dr. Johnson then earned his doctoral degree in physical rehabilitation science (neuromotor control concentration) in 2019 from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he then continued to teach as an adjunct faculty member until 2022. His dissertation focused on the role of sleep, and neuromodulation of sleep, in motor skill learning in healthy younger and older adults, as well as individuals with a history of stroke. Dr. Johnson completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in 2022, where he focused on the mechanisms underlying the consolidation and generalization of motor skills. Dr. Johnson joined the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis in August of 2022. Dr. Johnson is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, Neural Control of Movement Society, American Society for Neurorehabilitation, and the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Dr. Johnson’s clinical employment includes current service as an occupational therapist in the United States Army Reserve. He previously worked in various institutions and clinical settings focused on neurorehabilitation, including the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (previously the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, and the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, among others.

Selected Publications

Johnson, B., Whitall, J., McCombe Waller, S., & Westlake, K. (2022). Development and psychometric testing of a bimanual assessment measure for people with chronic stroke. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76(4), 7604205030. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2022.048995.

Johnson, B., Verceles, A., Scharf, S., & Westlake, K. (2021). Enhancing motor learning in people with stroke via memory reactivation during sleep. Rehabilitation Psychology, 66(4), 366-372. doi: 10.1037/rep0000401.

Johnson, B., Censor, N., Dayan, E., & Cohen, L. G. (2021). Crowdsourcing in cognitive and systems neuroscience. The Neuroscientist. doi: 10.1177/10738584211017018.

Johnson, B., Cohen, L. G., & Westlake, K. (2021). The intersection of offline learning and rehabilitation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 15, 667574. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2021.667574.

Johnson, B.,
Verceles, A., Scharf, S., & Westlake, K. (2020). Sensorimotor performance is improved by targeted memory reactivation during a daytime nap in healthy older adults. Neuroscience Letters, 13, 134973. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2020.134973.

Johnson, B.,
& Westlake, K. (2020). Chronic post-stroke deficits in ipsilesional upper extremity gross and fine motor control. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 100(4), 345-348. Doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001569.

Johnson, B., Shipper, A., & Westlake, K. (2019). Systematic review of non-pharmacological interventions applied during sleep to enhance rehabilitation outcomes in people with neurologic diagnoses. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 33(5), 345-354. doi: 10.1177/1545968319840288.

Johnson, B., Verceles, A., Scharf, S., & Westlake, K. (2019). Use of targeted memory reactivation enhances skill performance during a nap and enhances declarative memory during wake in healthy young adults. Journal of Sleep Research, 28(5), e12832. doi: 10.111/jsr.12832.

Johnson, B.,
Scharf, S. M., & Westlake, K. (2018). Targeted memory reactivation during sleep, but not wake, improves sensorimotor skill performance in healthy young adults: A pilot study. Journal of Motor Behavior, 50(2), 202-209. doi: 10.1080/00222895.2017.1327411.

Johnson, B.,
& Westlake, K. (2017). Link between Parkinson’s disease and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder with dream enactment: Possible implications for early rehabilitation. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 99(2), 411-415. Doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.08.468.

Johnson, B.
, & Johnston, M. (2017). Determining the feasibility, content validity, and internal consistency of a newly developed care coordination scale for people with brain injury. Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 5(3).

Westlake, K., Johnson, B., Creath, R., Neff, R., & Rogers, M. (2016). Influence of non-spatial working memory load on reach-grasp responses to loss of balance: Effects of age and fall risk. Gait & Posture, 45, 51-55. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2016.01.007.

Westlake, K. & Johnson, B. (2016). Commentary on “Facilitation of the lesioned motor cortex during tonic contraction of the unaffected limb corresponds to motor status following stroke.” Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy, 40(1), 22-23. doi: 10.1097/NPT.0000000000000118.

Book Chapter and Others

Johnson, B., & Cohen, L. G. (2023). Movement. In G. G. Brown, B. Crosson, K. Y. Haaland, & T. Z. King (Eds.), APA handbook of neuropsychology: Vol. 2. Neuroscience and Neuromethods. American Psychological Association.

Johnson, B., & Cohen, L. G. (2022). Reward and plasticity: Implications on neurorehabilitation. In: A. Quartarone, M. Ghilardi, & F. Boller (Eds.), Handbook of clinical neurology (3rd Series). Elsevier Publisher Inc.

Awards and Honors

2019: GGEAR Award for best geriatric poster, The 41st Annual Graduate Research Conference at The University of Maryland
2018: Outstanding Research Presentation Award, The 40th Annual Graduate Research Conference at The University of Maryland
2018: Progress in Clinical Motor Control Training Fellowship, The National Science Foundation
2017: 2017 Fletcher H. McDowell Award for best clinical science abstract at The American Society for Neurorehabilitation
2017: The American College of Sports Medicine Foundation Doctoral Student Research Grant
2016: University of Maryland, Baltimore Student Entrepreneurship Pitch Day Winner
2016: American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) of MD Annual Conference 2nd Place Poster
2015: Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers (OAIC) Outstanding Poster Award
2015: Qualtrics Behavioral Research Student Grant
2012: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Outstanding Research Thesis Award

Johnson, Brian

Johnson, Brian, PhD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Neurology

Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

Phone: (314) 286-2503
Fax: 314-286-1601
[email protected]

Research Laboratory

Neurorehabilitation and Applied Physiology Laboratory



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