Research methods


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 […]


Interview: Associate Professor Glen Lichtwark talks about microendoscopy in human muscles

With microendoscopy, it is now possible to study the microstructure of muscles in living humans with an unprecedented level of detail. Associate Professor Glen Lichtwark from the University of Queensland explains how microendoscopy can be used to gain a deeper understanding of how muscles adapt in response to, for example, training […]


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 […]


Muscle: a novel way to study its structure

Diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) is a novel technique used to study muscle architecture, and is currently being used for NeuRA’s motor impairment research. In his review paper, Damon et al. [1] comprehensively describes the details of the technique. In this blog, we cover some key elements to this […]


Interview: Professor David Vaux talks about Statistics and Publishing in Big Journals

At the second annual Motor Impairment Program meeting held at Neuroscience Research Australia at the end of last year, we were lucky to have guest speaker, Professor David Vaux from the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research (Melbourne, Australia) come up to talk to us about some general problems […]


The use and abuse of brain stimulation 2

Brain zapping, or non-invasive brain stimulation, in all its forms, has hit the mainstream.  You can even watch a YouTube video about how to build your very own not-approved-for-human-use transcranial magnetic stimulation machine!  Light-heartedness aside, the therapeutic benefits of brain stimulation are regularly highlighted in the news, and the number […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]