Office Room Number: 0G.434
QUB Phone extension: 5650
Year: (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4+ or Completing) 2nd
First Supervisor: Prof. Richard Carson
Second Supervisor: Prof. Cathy Craig
PhD Title: Investigating the Mechanisms Underlying Cross Education
Summary of Project: Cross Education is the process by which training of one limb gives rise to strength gains and performance improvement in the opposite, untrained limb. This phenomenon has been reported in research for over 100 years, but to date there is no scientific agreement on the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the effect. In the context of upper limb immobilisation (for example, following a fracture), training of the free limb can help avoid the loss of strength that occurs in the muscles of the affected limb. Due to the potential benefit of therapies based upon exploiting Cross Education, there is a need at present to develop an understanding of how the effect occurs and what brain areas contribute, in order to fully inform the development of optimal therapies.
Research Cluster: Emotion, Intelligence, Perception & Cognition (EPIC)
At present my main research interest is using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to probe the excitability of motor cortical projections to lower arm muscles. By using TMS, we can discover whether corticospinal excitability holds a key to understanding the mechanisms that underlie how training of one limb can benefit the opposite, untrained limb.
I am currently using Diffuse Tensor Imaging (DTI), a variant of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in which the brain's white matter structures can be imaged and quantified, in order to establish whether there are structural differences in the brains of those who exhibit high and low levels of Cross Education. I am using this technique in combination with measures of functional connectivity in the brain, such as resting state functional MRI and paired pulse TMS.
QUB School of Psychology Annual Postgraduate Conference-September 2011. Oral Presentation. “Investigating the Mechanisms Underlying Cross Education”.
Young Life Sciences Ireland Conference- University College Dublin- June 2011. Poster Presentation- “Vision Modulates Corticospinal Suppression in a Functionally Specific Manner During Movement of the Opposite Limb”- Carson & Ruddy (2011).
Magstim Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Summer School 2011, Oxford Examination Schools. Poster presentation- “The Effect of Mirrored Visual Feedback on the Crossed-Facilitation of Corticospinal Excitability in a Discrete Movement Task”- Ruddy, Ennis-Dawson & Carson, 2010).
Trauma and Rehab Research Group Annual Conference, October 2010- University of Ulster (Magee)- Poster presentation- “The Effect of Mirrored Visual Feedback on the Crossed-Facilitation of Corticospinal Excitability in a Discrete Movement Task”- Ruddy, Ennis-Dawson & Carson, 2010).
Carson, R.G., & Ruddy, K.L. (2012). Vision Modulates Corticospinal Suppression in a Functionally Specific Manner during Movement of the Opposite Limb. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(2), 646-652.