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  • PhD positions at The University of Birmingham

    PhD positions available at The University of Birmingham

    As part of an initiative in the motor control area in the School of Sport and Exercise sciences and within the College of Life and Environmental Sciences we are offering up to 3 fully funded Postgraduate studentships. The projects will be very well suited to a keen biologist / psychologist with an interest in how the human neuromuscular system works, or to an engineering / physical sciences graduate who is interested in applying engineering techniques to human movement. Within the scope of the projects' goals the specific details of the study can be tailored to the individual background and interests of the student.

    To apply or make an inquiry, please contact Dr Martin Lakie ( or Dr Raymond Reynolds ( Closing date: 31st August 2010.

    1) Tremor (Martin Lakie & Raymond Reynolds)
    Why do your hands shake? All human subjects have a fine muscular tremor that can be recorded by suitable techniques. In some subjects the tremor may be much larger than in others. To some extent the tremor is a product of the properties of the muscles and to some extent it is controlled centrally. Research is being carried out here to investigate the central and peripheral components of physiological tremors. The project will be well suited to a keen biologist with an interest in how the human neuromuscular system works, or to an engineering / physical sciences graduate who is interested in applying engineering techniques to human movement. A recent development in the field has been to use dynamic ultrasonography to observe and record the activity of the relevant muscles.

    Reynolds, RF. & Lakie, M. Post-movement changes in the frequency and amplitude of physiological tremor despite unchanged neural output. J Neurophysiology (July 21, 2010).
    Lakie M. The influence of muscle tremor on shooting performance. Exp Physiol. 2010 Mar;95(3):441-50.
    Loram ID, Maganaris CN, Lakie M. Use of ultrasound to make noninvasive in vivo measurement of continuous changes in human muscle contractile length. J Appl Physiol. 2006 Apr;100(4):1311-23.
    Lakie MD, Hayes NR, Combes N, Langford N. Is postural tremor size controlled by interstitial potassium concentration in muscle? J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry.2004 Jul;75(7):1013-8.

    2) Cortical control of human standing (Raymond Reynolds & Martin Lakie).
    Previously it was thought that standing was a trivial task controlled by passive joint stiffness alone. We now know ankle stiffness is insufficient for maintaining upright stance and that active neural control is necessary (Loram and Lakie, 2002). This implies that higher brain areas play an important role during standing, but the nature of this role and the specific areas involved are unknown. This project will employ neural stimulation techniques (TMS) to investigate the role of the motor cortex in normal standing. Physical perturbations will also be applied to the ankle joint to determine the extent to which postural sway can be controlled by voluntary changes in ankle stiffness (Reynolds, 2010b; Reynolds, 2010a).

    Loram ID, Lakie M (2002) Direct measurement of human ankle stiffness during quiet standing: the intrinsic mechanical stiffness is insufficient for stability. J Physiol 545:1041-1053.
    Reynolds RF (2010a) The effect of voluntary sway control on the early and late components of the vestibular-evoked postural response. Exp Brain Res 201:133-139.
    Reynolds RF (2010b) The ability to voluntarily control sway reflects the difficulty of the standing task. Gait Posture 31:78-81.

    Raymond Reynolds
    Lecturer in Motor Control
    School of Sports & Exercise Sciences
    College of Life & Environmental Sciences
    University of Birmingham, B15 2TT
    0121 414 4107