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Dr. James L. Nuzzo is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Neuroscience Research Australia. He is originally from the United States, with a background in Exercise Science. In 2016, he completed a PhD at the University of New South Wales.
The title of his thesis was, “Effects of strength training on the corticospinal pathway at a spinal level.”
Dr. Nuzzo’s projects examine how strength training alters the neural connections between the brain and muscles.
DAVID KENNEDY Research Assistant
SIOBHAN DONGÉS Postdoctoral Fellow
MATTHEW JONES PhD student
DR JESSICA D’AMICO Research Officer
Four weeks of isometric strength training of the elbow flexors increased muscle strength and voluntary activation, without a change in the muscle. The improvement in activation suggests that voluntary output from the cortex was better able to recruit motoneurons and/or increase their firing rates. The lack of change in CMEPs indicates that neither corticospinal transmission nor motoneuron excitability was affected by training.
Biceps Mmax is similarly affected by 2 and 12 sets of strength training. The overall effect is minimal compared with ∼25% depression reported after similar training in a different arm posture. Thus, changes in Mmax appear more dependent on training posture than number of training sets. Muscle Nerve 54: 791-793, 2016.
Via processes within the spinal cord, one session of strength training of the elbow flexors increases net output from motoneurons projecting to the trained muscles. Likely mechanisms include increased efficacy of corticospinal-motoneuronal synapses or increased motoneuron excitability. However, the rate of force generation during training is not important for inducing these changes. A concomitant increase in motor cortical excitability is likely. These short-term changes may represent initial neural adaptations to strength training.