Plasticity of lower-limb motoneurons after spinal cord injury

Several neuromodulatory strategies have been used to improve leg function in individuals with spinal cord injury. These strategies include: electrical stimulation of the lumbar spinal cord (Harkema et al. 2011), operant conditioning of spinal reflexes (Thompson et al. 2013), and magnetic stimulation of a part of the brain that controls […]


Spinal cord plasticity: getting to the how of the matter

It is well known that the nervous system is capable of change. One way that change occurs is through the strengthening or weakening of connections between nerve cells; a process termed synaptic plasticity. In the laboratory, we can produce synaptic changes using stimulation techniques that activate various parts of the […]


Prof Rob Herbert selects his “Paper of the Year” for 2017

People who have had a stroke may develop disabling spasticity and contracture. In the upper limb, spasticity and contracture sometime manifest as a characteristic postural deformity: in standing, the relaxed arm is held with the shoulder adducted and internally rotated, the elbow flexed and pronated, and the wrist and fingers […]


Prof Simon Gandevia selects his “Paper of the Year” for 2017

How do we learn things? Sometimes learning occurs over many trials but other times it occurs after single episodes. The traditional view of learning has invoked Hebbian plasticity (Hebb 1949). Here, the concept is that “neurones that wire together, fire together”. Enhanced firing of a post-synaptic cell is thought to […]


Pain education increases pain thresholds after exercise

In people with chronic pain, the interactions between exercise and pain are complex. On one hand, regular exercise may be one of the most effective treatments because it consistently improves pain, function and quality of life (Geneen et al., 2017). On the other hand, a single session of exercise, such […]


Can’t run from the past: previous injuries increase risk of leg injury

If someone has suffered a leg injury in the past, they are at an increased risk of having that particular injury again in the future (Murphy et al. 2003). Oftentimes, this second injury is worse than the first. Knowing this, physiotherapists often design rehabilitation programs that target that particular body […]


Are you reliably excitable?

Studies on motor impairments sometimes involve electrophysiological measures to assess the effects of therapeutic interventions.  For example, to determine the effect of an exercise program on brain function/excitability, a researcher might measure muscle responses elicited by non-invasive, magnetic stimulation of the brain (transcranial magnetic stimulation). When researchers plan their studies […]


3D architecture of muscles during growth

Body mass and body size increase during growth. Muscles must adapt during growth to deal with these changes. However, little is known about the modifications in the three dimensional geometry (e.g. cross-sectional area, fibre length) of developing muscles (Bénard et al. 2011; Böl et al. 2017). Knowledge about the structural […]