Yearly Archives: 2016

Falls without a cause: Understanding risk factors for unexplained falls in older people

While older people most often fall because of a slip, trip or loss of balance, up to 25% of falls remain unexplained (Anpalahan & Gibson, 2012; Davies & Kenny, 1996; Lord et al., 1993). People who have had unexplained falls report having fallen because of a blackout, dizziness, feeling faint or “having […]

Hard and fast: Power training improves walking speed and voluntary activation in mobility-limited older adults

Muscle strength and other measures of physical function decline with age (e.g., Kenny et al. 2013).  To overcome these age-related decrements in physical function, physical exercise is recommended (e.g. American College of Sports Medicine 2009; Australian Government Department of Health 2005).  Two types of exercise that improve physical function in older adults […]

How do muscles bulge during contraction and does this influence function?

Perhaps when you were a child, you stood in front of a mirror and flexed your elbow to see how big your muscles were (perhaps you have done this recently?).  The harder you contract your muscle, the bigger it looks. But of course the muscle doesn’t actually get bigger, it […]

New reflexes acting between human inspiratory muscles in able-bodied participants and those with spinal injury

Inspiratory muscle motoneurone pools are linked via many reflex connections.  These reflexes are largely inhibitory and can operate over several segments.  Much of our knowledge of these reflex connections comes from studies in animals (Marlot et al. 1988, Speck & Revelette. 1987).  In humans, we know that stimulation of the phrenic nerve […]

Muscle weakness or sarcopenia? Call it what it is! 1

The term ‘sarcopenia’ comes from ‘sarco-’, the Greek word for ‘flesh’ (muscle), and ‘-penia’ which denotes ‘deficiency’.  The original definition reflected this as ‘the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass that accompanies ageing (0.5–1% loss per year after the age of 25)’ (Cruz-Jentoft et al., 2010).  However over time, the […]

Interview: Dr Martin Héroux talks about reproducibility of transcranial magnetic stimulation

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a popular method among neuroscientists to study brain function, because it enables selective activation of certain areas of the brain with a magnetic coil. However, results from TMS studies published in the scientific literature can often not be reproduced. NeuRA’s Dr Martin Héroux talks about findings […]

Proprioception: The body’s representation of the hand

Proprioception, our ‘sixth sense’, underlies our innate ability to localise our body parts in space and to know the forces, angles and movements at our joints (Proske & Gandevia, 2012). This ‘sense’ allows us to interact with our environment. For example, reaching for a cup of water requires knowledge of the exact spatial […]

Does exercise intensity affect the susceptibility of resistance trained males to central fatigue?

The ability to activate and maintain muscle activation during movement is the one of the many jobs of the central nervous system and a break-down within this system results in motor impairment. A common acute motor impairment from exercise is fatigue which can be described as a reduction in the […]

Interview: Professor Rob Herbert talks about muscle contractures

Professor Rob Herbert at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) performs research into contractures – the stiffening of joints that often occurs after neurological lesions such as stroke, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. In this video he talks about the cutting-edge techniques like ultrasound and diffusion tensor imaging that he and people […]