Research participant's arm in a machine designed for motor impairment study

Motor Impairment


Associate Investigators

Original Associate Investigators
We are grateful to be joined by a number of long-time and new collaborators for different parts of the Motor Impairment Program. We anticipate that others will join us as work progresses.

Professor Lynne BILSTON
Lynne is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, Senior Principal Research Fellow at NeuRA, and Conjoint Professor in the Prince of Wales Clinical School at UNSW. Her research focuses on how mechanical forces are involved in physiological and pathophysiological processes in the body. This encompasses injury biomechanics, neural and other soft tissue biomechanics, and the development of novel imaging methods for making mechanical measurements in vivo.

Associate Professor Jane BUTLER
Jane is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Principal Research Fellow at NeuRA. Her research focuses on the neural control of human respiratory and limb muscles. She has a special interest in activation of paralysed muscles after spinal cord injury and will provide key expertise in neuromuscular stimulation and muscle testing of patients with spinal cord injury.

Associate Professor Jacqueline CLOSE
Jacqui is a Senior Staff Specialist in Geriatric Medicine at the Prince of Wales Hospital and Director of the Falls and Injury Prevention Group at NeuRA. She is Co-Chair of the NSW ACT Aged Health Network. Her research areas include falls and fracture prevention including understanding risk factors for falls and development of approaches to intervention in people with cognitive impairment.

Kim is a Research Fellow at NeuRA and a leading international researcher in the fear of falling in older people. She has developed several screening tools and classification trees to help predict falls in older people. Her expertise on understanding disparities between neuropsychological factors and physical functioning will be important for the Program.

Lisa is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney. She has published widely in rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries, with a particular focus on randomised controlled trials to determine the effects of physical interventions. She will contribute key expertise to studies in contracture and spinal cord injury.

Glen is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Human Movement Sciences at the University of Queensland. He has expertise in muscle physiology and muscle mechanics, and brings skills in three-dimensional motion analysis and advanced muscle biomechanics to the Program.

Dr Penelope McNULTY
Penelope is a Research Fellow at NeuRA and a Senior Lecturer at UNSW. She has longstanding interests in human motor control, sensory physiology and aging. She has expertise in a number of specialised research techniques and will be directly involved in the studies of stroke and hand function.

Professor Caroline (Lindy) RAE
Lindy is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at NeuRA, Director of Magnetic Resonance Research at NeuRA Imaging, and Professor of Brain Sciences at UNSW. She uses multidisciplinary approaches to study brain function with a major emphasis on brain biochemistry. She will provide expert advice on imaging studies for the Program.

Daina is a biomechanist and a Senior Research Officer at NeuRA where she has a major role in the Movement and Gait Analysis Laboratory. She studies
sensorimotor contributions to disturbances of balance, gait, voluntary and protective stepping in older people. She will bring her experimental and biomechanical skills to work on the clinical studies within the Program.

New Associate Investigators
Ben is a motor control and exercise physiologist and lecturer at UNSW. He studies how exercise can be prescribed to maintain mobility and health, and to counteract the effects of pain, fatigue and aging. He will be involved in a number of studies examining weakness, fatigue and the effects of training.

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Caress the Detail: A Comprehensive MRI Atlas of the in Vivo Human Brain

This project aims to deliver the most comprehensive, detailed and stereotaxically accurate MRI atlas of the canonical human brain. In human neuroscience, researchers and clinicians almost always investigate images obtained from living individuals. Yet, there is no satisfactory MRI atlas of the human brain in vivo or post-mortem. There are some population-based atlases, which valiantly solve a number of problems, but they fail to address major needs. Most problematically, they segment only a small number of brain structures, typically about 50, and they are of limited value for the interpretation of a single subject/patient. In contrast to population-based approaches, the present project will investigate normal, living subjects in detail. We aim to define approximately 800 structures, as in the histological atlas of Mai, Majtanik and Paxinos (2016), and, thus, provide a “gold standard” for science and clinical practice. We will do this by obtaining high-resolution MRI at 3T and 7T of twelve subjects through a collaboration with Markus Barth from the Centre for Advanced Imaging at the University of Queensland (UQ). The limited number of subjects will allow us to image each for longer periods, obtaining higher resolution and contrast, and to invest the required time to produce unprecedented detail in segmentation. We will produce an electronic atlas for interpreting MR images, both as a tablet application and as an online web service. The tablet application will provide a convenient and powerful exegesis of brain anatomy for researchers and clinicians. The open access web service will additionally provide images, segmentation and anatomical templates to be used with most common MR-analysis packages (e.g., SPM, FSL, MINC, BrainVoyager). This will be hosted in collaboration with UQ, supporting and complementing their population-based atlas.