More is better: an improved technique for enhancing plasticity in the human spinal cord

Repetitive pairing of stimuli to the motor cortex and peripheral nerves supplying muscles can induce plasticity at synapses between nerve cells that control voluntary muscle activity. This technique has therapeutic potential for enhancing activity at synapses that lie within the spinal cord  and transmit commands from the brain to the muscles; thus the technique may […]

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Anaesthesia makes us feel fat, not big

The brain cannot properly control the movement of the body without knowing something about its size.  However, the body does not have receptors to signal size directly, the brain has to work it out using information from multiple senses (e.g. touch, vision, proprioception) and then store it in body “maps” for use during movement control.  […]


Measuring responses to environmental forces post-stroke using robots 1

Stroke can impair motor and/or sensory systems in very different ways depending on the individual (Teasell & Hussein, 2013). Currently, many neurological measures of the functional consequences of stroke use very coarse scales and/or rely of the subjective judgements of clinicians (Scott & Dukelow, 2011). In our lab we are developing a suite of behavioural […]

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Human muscles fascicles: what can ultrasound and diffusion tensor imaging reveal?

Following a stroke or spinal cord injury some people develop stiff joints, sometimes referred to as contracture. It is not well understood why contractures develop. Also, it is not clear whether they result from changes in the muscle or the tendon, which is why researchers and clinicians are very interested in the mechanical properties of […]


Art and science: the benefits of dance in Parkinson’s disease

As a graduate student, I volunteered at my local community centre and the manager assigned me to run one of the weekly exercise classes offered to older people in the community. I found this experience highly rewarding and I was impressed by the enthusiasm of participants. The highlight of each class was teaching a series […]

Dance for Parkinson's disease

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Serotonin, Spasticity and Spinal Cord Injury (The Three S’s)

Immediately following a spinal cord injury (SCI) patients enter a state of areflexia and muscle weakness that is gradually replaced by the recovery of neuronal and network excitability leading to improvements in residual motor function over time as well as to the development of spasticity (i.e. involuntary muscle spasms). Spasticity can lead to impairments in […]


Falling is a risky business

Awareness of our physical ability is critically important when we decide on what actions to take. Can I reach that far?, Can I walk on that path?, Can I step that high? This is particularly important for older people whose physical function declines with age and who are at increased risk of falls (Lord et […]

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SimonGandevia

Interview with Professor Simon Gandevia on motor impairment

Siobhan Moylan, a science and media communicator at Neuroscience Research Australia, recently conducted this insightful interview with Professor Simon Gandevia. In the interview, Professor Gandevia talks at length about motor impairment, which is the focus of a recent NHMRC Program Grant entitled ‘Motor Impairment: basic and applied human neurophysiology’.  


Fighting fire with fire: using vibration to suppress tremor 2

Treatments for tremor disorders have largely focused on the prescription of medications or, in more severe cases, brain surgery (for a review see Schneider & Deuschl 2015). In recent years, there have been some novel – and at times ‘sci-fi’ – approaches to reducing tremor amplitude.  Such approaches include the use of an exoskeleton worn […]

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