Human performance research

We study physical function in healthy people and find ways to enhance performance for athletes and non-athletes alike.

Exercise Sciences students in the lab

Our research covers topics such as the science of human physiology, muscle structure and adaptation for optimum function.

We aim to increase understanding of exercise metabolism and nutrition, asking questions such as 'What can we feed our brain to enhance performance and reduce fatigue?'  With biomechanical analysis, we improve movement efficiency and enhance athletic performance.

Our studies in performance psychology investigate how psychophysiological states such as anxiety, fatigue and sleep, influence human performance in healthy adults. Cardiovascular physiology studies investigate specific training responses in the cardiopulmonary, vascular, neural, musculoskeletal and metabolic systems of healthy adults.

Research topics

Brain fatigue

Our research seeks to understand why the brain is susceptible to fatigue during exercise and other physiological stresses.

Methods to protect the brain using ‘brain foods’ and drugs with fatigue-reversing properties use a combination of metabolic physiology and advanced neuroscience techniques.

Muscle physiology and adaptation

We research muscle physiology and adaptation to exercise.

In particular, we aim to specify, justify and evaluate interventions to ensure sufficient muscle size and function for movement and metabolic health in athletes and older adults.

Development of an integrated digital human modelling framework

Digital human modelling (DHM) tools are widely used in industrial design to perform ergonomics analysis. These tools reduce project time-scale, design and manufacturing costs, and occupational injuries.

Our framework aims to integrate portable motion analysis with musculoskeletal modelling and optimisation techniques, for real-time risk assessment of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Improving cardiovascular function

We study the use of different forms of exercise training in improving cardiovascular function and microvascular reactivity in older adults.

Psychophysiological states and their effect on movement control

Performance situations trigger a variety of psychophysiological states in the individual performer.

Our projects consider the effects of physical fatigue and psychological stress on movement control in sports and daily life tasks. By understanding the impact of psychophysiological states on visual perception and the control of action, we aim to optimise performance in those situations where it counts the most.

Related research centres

Our researchers

Professor Winston Bylow

  • Movement neuroscience

Associate Professor Nicholas Gant

  • Exercise nutrition and neurometabolism

Associate Professor Heather Smith

  • Exercise and muscle physiology

Dr Yanxin Zhang

  • Biomechanics

Dr Arne Nieuwenhuys

  • Movement psychology and cognitive neuroscience

Dr Stacey Reading

  • Clinical exercise physiology