Integrative Physiology

Research theme: Neuromuscular function

In this research theme, we study the neural mechanisms and neuronal pathways through which the central nervous system and skeletal muscles communicate to control neuromuscular function. Skeletal muscles act upon central commands of spinal or supraspinal origin. These efferent signals are modulated by sensory input from skeletal muscle and other physiological systems, to allow exquisite motor control. 

We use a variety of techniques and measurements to explore the control of neuromuscular function. Involuntary contractions are evoked in muscles of interest using cutaneous electrical stimulation or magnetic stimulation of the appropriate peripheral nerves and transcranial magnetic stimulation of the relevant areas of the motor cortex. The evoked action potentials (electromyography), muscle twitches (dynamometers and force transducers) and movements (kinetics – motion analysis) are analysed to reveal the involvement of the peripheral, spinal and supraspinal mechanisms.

Our work is focused upon improving our understanding of fatigue processes and how these could be influenced by a variety of stimuli including physical activity, training, vibration, hypoxia, nutrition, and disease pathophysiology. 

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