Dr Anna Hudson


Senior Postdoctoral Fellow Early Career Research Fellow, NHMRC
Conjoint Lecturer, UNSW

+612 9399 1827

Anna Hudson completed her doctorate at NeuRA and UNSW in 2010, investigating the neural control of the human inspiratory muscles using single motor unit electromyography (EMG) recordings. With the support of an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship she conducted postdoctoral studies at Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris using electroencephalography (EEG) and signal processing techniques to investigate how breathing is controlled in healthy subjects and patient groups. She has also made contributions in the broader discipline of motor control, including the descending control of limb muscles.
Anna returned to NeuRA in 2014. Current studies include investigation of the relationship between the mechanics and neural control in respiratory and limb muscles using ultrasound and EMG and of sensorimotor cortical control of the respiratory muscles in healthy subjects and in patients with respiratory disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obstructive sleep apnoea and asthma using EEG.

Anna is looking for Honours and PhD students for the broad range of current studies listed above. Contact her for more details.

Projects Dr Anna Hudson is currently involved with


Emotional breathing

Not only are the breathing muscles controlled automatically from the brainstem and motor cortex, but they can be activated in response to emotion, e.g. during laughing and crying. We plan to investigate the neural pathways involved in emotional breathing in healthy volunteers.


Emotional breathing

Control of the neural drive to human breathing muscles in health and disease

Our recent studies of the control of breathing muscles have shown a strong link between neural drive and mechanical action of the muscle. We showed that for a number of breathing muscles, the neural drive is directed to the muscles with the best mechanical effect for breathing. We termed this link between mechanics and neural drive ‘neuromechanical matching’. It is a new principle of muscle activation that allows for metabolically efficient activation of the muscles. This basic research finding is now leading to further studies in patients with respiratory disorders where muscle mechanics have changed. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is one such disease, where muscle mechanics are known to change. Our new studies will look at whether these patients have “adapted” to the changed muscle mechanics or whether their muscles may be activated inefficiently.


Control of the neural drive to human breathing muscles in health and disease

Studies of voluntary and involuntary control of human breathing

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 current experiments are looking at voluntary and involuntary drive to the breathing muscles to try to answer this fundamental question about the neural control of breathing. In addition we are looking at the potential cortical contributions to resting breathing in respiratory disorders.


Studies of voluntary and involuntary control of human breathing

Investigations into the firing behaviour of human motoneurones in health and after neurological inju

This basic science project aims to examine the behaviour of human motoneurones during sustained activation to reveal their mechanisms of recovery after activation. We will take the fundamental findings from this study and compare the behaviour of motoneurones innervating muscles affected by neurological injury such as spinal cord injury and stroke.


Investigations into the firing behaviour of human motoneurones in health and after neurological injury


Claire Boswell-Ruys

DR CLAIRE BOSWELL-RUYS Postdoctoral fellow

Rachel McBain

DR RACHEL MCBAIN Postdoctoral fellow

DR BEN KWAN PhD student

Chaminda Lewis


David Nguyen

DAVID NGUYEN Honours student