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Neuromuscular Function

Since 2010, our laboratories have had the capability of investigating central nervous system (CNS) responses to a range of exercise interventions. Specifically, we have an international reputation for quantifying exercise induced fatigue and stress, recovery and adaptation in athletic and clinical populations.

We assess CNS function and skeletal muscle adaptation to exercise, using sophisticated neurophysiological techniques (including transcranial magnetic stimulation [TMS], transcranial direct current stimulation [TDCS], & peripheral nerve stimulation [PNS]) to probe the brain-to-muscle pathway. We use range of force and EMG parameters to study responses and have the capability of measuring individual motor unit behaviour using high-density EMG. Haemodynamic responses are assessed using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), whilst a deeper understanding of cortical structures and activation is achieved using brain imaging (MRI).    

The group routinely performs mechanistic research investigating the responses to eccentric and concentric muscle actions along with the fatigue and recovery elicited following exercise performance or training interventions. We establish how female sex hormones affect neuromuscular function and then more broadly, how motor function is influenced across the female life course. From a clinical perspective, we are investigating the influence of chemotherapy on peripheral neuropathy and the neuromuscular responses following limb immobilisation.      

Collectively, this research group produces a sustained level of high-quality work and is one of the most active research areas in the Department.  The group regularly receives requests from researchers outside the UK for collaborative and exchange opportunities.

Academic Team

PGRs / Thesis Title / Submission Year

  • Elliot Atkinson / The effect of resistance training on reticulospinal tract function in humans / 2024
  • Rosiered Brownson-smith / The effect and feasibility of exercise prehabilitation and neurophysiological assessments on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy in breast cancer / 2024
  • Benito Cattani / Investigating the role of the muscle afferent feedback regulating motor unit behaviour during fatiguing exercise in humans / 2027
  • Oliver Hayman / Neurophysiological responses following single and repeated bouts of eccentric exercise / 2024
  • Padraig Spillane / Neurophysiology and plasticity across the female lifespan / 2026

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