Breathing is a complex motor task that needs to be coordinated at all times while we eat, speak, exercise and even during sleep. The breathing muscles are controlled automatically from the brainstem during normal breathing but can also be controlled voluntarily from the motor cortex.
The way these two drives to the breathing muscles interact is still not well understood. While there is some evidence that there are at least two independent pathways, and that integration of the pathways occurs at the spinal cord, there is some uncertainty about whether these pathways may have some interaction in the brainstem.
Our overall goal is to determine the role of neural drive in impairments of respiratory muscle function in older adults (over 65 years), people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), spinal injury or obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
Pain provides a warning of threat to body tissue. This protective mechanism is critical for survival as it motivates defensive actions to remove the source of the threat. Unfortunately for many people, pain can become ‘stuck’, persisting long past the time when it has served any useful purpose of warning of harm. These people have chronic pain, a disabling and highly distressing condition. Dr James McAuley’s research is focused on low […]