Researcher Profile

Dr Melissa Licari

Melissa Licari
Melissa Licari

Phone: +61 8 6488 7282

Research Expertise:
  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Developmental neurology
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Movement disorders
  • Neuroimaging


Unit Title:SSEH3345 Lifespan Motor Development
Position: Unit Coordinator, lecturer and tutorial demonstrator

Lifespan Motor Development is a 3rd year unit within the Bachelor of Science Program (Exercise Science). The unit is designed to provide students with knowledge of the development, acquisition and decline in movement skills across the lifespan. A variety of topics are covered including the history of motor development, prenatal motor development, reflexes in infancy, locomotion in infancy, development of manipulation, speech and postural control, fundamental movement skills in early childhood, advanced motor skills in adulthood and the decline in movement skills with age. Students are given the opportunity to visually observe and assess movement patterns in real life, by visiting specific populations of interest. The approach taken within the unit is multi-disciplinary, covering aspects of neuromotor functioning, physiological functioning, psychological behaviour and movement mechanics.

Unit Title: SSEH3385 Motor development & Dysfunction
Position: Unit Coordinator, lecturer, tutorial demonstrator and practical supervisor

Motor Development & Dsyfunction is a 3rd year elective unit within the Bachelor of Science Program (Exercise Science). The unit is designed to provide students with knowledge of the underlying cause/s, characteristics, and therapy options of a variety of different disorders and diseases that impact movement. The disorders and diseases include, developmental coordination disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, tics and Tourette’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. Students learn how to assess and design movement therapy programs based on the type of movement dysfunction and underlying symptoms. Students are given the opportunity to design and implement their own movement therapy program by working in the Unigym Program. In the program, students are allocated a child with a specific movement disorder, assess the child’s level of dysfunction, and design and implement a 10 week program aimed at improving the execution of basic and/or fundamental movement skills.


BSc PhD W.Aust.

Current Projects

Developmental Coordination Disorder:
- Application of fMRI to investigate motor imagery and imitation deficits
- Measures of physical fitness and role of differing forms of exercise intervention

- fMRI investigation of working memory

Chronic Radiculopathy:
- fMRI investigation into the mechanisms of pain

Funding Received

Licari, M. (2011). Mirror neuron activation in children with developmental coordination disorder: An fMRI study. Science Futures Foundation.

Licari, M., Reid, S., Elliott, C. (2010). The neural mechanisms of motor overflow in children with developmental coordination disorder. The University of Western Australia Research Development Awards.

Braham, R., Lay, B., & Licari, M. (2006). The influence of group size intervention for children with movement difficulties. The University of Western Australia Research Grants Scheme.

Future Research

Future research will continue to look at various topics related to the neuromotor functioning, mechanical inefficiency, energy cost of movement, postural control, and the role of differing forms of intervention in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. In the future, motor functioning of other populations will commence, including cerebral palsy and autism.

Roles, responsibilities and expertise

Unit coordinator of SSEH3345 Lifespan Motor Development (sem 2) and SSEH3385 Motor Development and Dysfunction (sem 2). Supervisor of honours, masters and doctoral studies related to child motor development and dysfunction. Coordinator of the Unigym Program.


Assistant Professor Melissa Licari is a lecturer and researcher in the area of motor control and development within the School of Sport Science, Exercise & Health at the University of Western Australia. She has a keen interest in children's movement disorders, with the emphasis on understanding the underlying deficits seen in populations with movement disorders.

Her position involves coordinating the Unigym Program, a movement therapy clinic for children with various forms of movement dysfunction. In this role she identifies movement difficulties of the clinical populations involved, helps students develop skills to work with children with movement disorders, and undertakes research to investigate the underlying mechanisms of movement inefficiency and the effectiveness of intervention.

Her position also involves the coordination of two undergraduate units related to the development and change in movement skills across the lifespan (SSEH3345), and the impact of movement dysfunction and the importance of intervention in a variety of populations (SSEH3385).

ID: 103191

Most frequent journals
  • Human Movement Science

    ISSNs: 0167-9457, 1872-7646


    Scopus rating (2016): CiteScore 1.98 SJR 0.826 SNIP 1.058

    Journal: ERA2018


    ISSNs: 0966-6362, 1879-2219


    Scopus rating (2016): CiteScore 2.78 SJR 1.225 SNIP 1.568

    Journal: ERA2018

  • International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience

    ISSNs: 0736-5748, 1873-474X


    Scopus rating (2016): CiteScore 2.21 SJR 0.969 SNIP 0.719

    Journal: ERA2018

  • Disability & Rehabilitation

    ISSNs: 0963-8288, 1464-5165

    Informa Healthcare USA

    Scopus rating (2016): CiteScore 1.84 SJR 0.903 SNIP 1.072

    Journal: ERA2018

  • Journal of Motor Behaviour

    ISSNs: 0022-2895, 1940-1027


    Scopus rating (2016): CiteScore 1.3 SJR 0.508 SNIP 0.663

    Journal: ERA2018

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