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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Bernadette Murphy


Faculty of Health Sciences

Leading researcher focused on how altering afferent input from the spine and limbs affects sensorimotor integration and motor control.

Contact information

Science Building - Room 348
North Oshawa
2000 Simcoe Street North
Oshawa, ON L1G 0C5

Human Neurophysiology and Rehabilitation Laboratory

Research topics

  • sensorimotor integration
  • neural adaptation and learning
  • neurophysiology of musculoskeletal treatments
  • chronic pain processing
  • neural effects of exercise

Research and expertise

  • Background and interests

    Research area of specialty: Altered neural processing in chronic musculoskeletal pain.

    The overall theme of Dr. Murphy’s research is to understand how altering afferent input from the spine and limbs affects sensorimotor integration and motor control. She is also interested in understanding how the human central nervous system adapts in conditions such as chronic musculoskeletal pain and depression, and understanding the role of physical interventions in aiding the re-establishment of meaningful neural connections. In order to measure altered neural function in humans, she has acquired skills in a number of non-invasive techniques which can be used to measure changes in neural processing and function in humans. This includes nerve stimulation, somatosensory evoked potential techniques (SEPs) to measure processing of sensory input by the brain, electromyography to measure electrical activity in muscles, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which is a technique used to investigate the output of the human motor cortex. Recently she has also started to use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure changes in muscle function and functional MRI to investigate changes in brain function with exercise.

    Dr. Murphy’s research plan is to continue to investigate altered sensorimotor integration in response to repetitive activity, using both SEPs and TMS in laboratory based studies. She is also involved in questionnaire development on neck pain incidence in laptop user and clinical studies of the effects of exercise and manipulation on sensorimotor integration in neck pain patients.

  • Publications

    For a comprehensive list of publications, please visit PubMed.

    Selected publications

    • Zabihhosseinian, M.*, Holmes, M., Howarth, S., Ferguson, B.*, Murphy, B. (2017) Neck muscle fatigue differentially alters scapular and humeral kinematics during humeral elevation in subclinical neck pain participants versus healthy controls. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. 33: 73-82. DOI: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2017.02.002.
    • Dancey, E.*, Murphy, B., Andrew, D.*, Yielder, P. (2016) The interactive effect of acute pain and motor learning on sensorimotor integration and motor learning outcomes. Journal of Neurophysiology. Vol. 116(5): 2210-2220 DOI: 10.1152/jn.00337.2016
    • Baarbé JK*, Holmes MW, Murphy HE, Haavik H, Murphy BA. (2016) Influence of Subclinical Neck Pain on the Ability to Perform a Mental Rotation Task: A 4-Week Longitudinal Study With a Healthy Control Group Comparison. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 39(1): 23-30. DOI: 10.16/j.jmt.2015.12.002
    • Zabihhosseinian M.*, Holmes MW, Murphy B. (2015) Neck muscle fatigue alters upper limb proprioception. Experimental Brain Research. 233(5): 1663-75. DOI: 10.1007/s0021-015-4240-x
    • Andrew D, Yielder P, Murphy B. (2014) Do pursuit movement tasks lead to differential changes in early somatosensory evoked potentials related to motor learning compared with typing tasks? Journal of Neurophysiology. 113(4): 1156-64. DOI:10.1152/jn.00713.2014.
  • Research collaborators
    • Dr. Heidi Haavik from New Zealand and Dr. Natalie Mrachacz-Kersting from Denmark on studies relating to altered neck input and upper limb sensorimotor integration.
    • Dr. Andrew Hogue and Dr. Bill Kapralos (Faculty of Business and Information Technology, Ontario Tech University) and partners from the University of Manitoba, University of Toronto and the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in developing serious games to:
      • Teach safe lifting techniques to professions at high risk of back pain.
      • Develop serious games to train decision making for professions under high levels of cognitive and physiological stress.
    • Multi-disciplinary team from Lakeridge Mental Health, the University of Toronto and Harvard University looking at the mechanisms by which exercise improves brain function.
  • Courses taught

    Courses taught (past and present) at the undergraduate level:

    • Exercise Prescription and Principles of Fitness
    • Exercise Rehabilitation I
    • Exercise Rehabilitation II
    • Kinesiology I: Anatomy of Human Movement
    • Kinesiology II: Musculoskeletal Biomechanics

    Courses taught (past and present) at the graduate level:

    • Neuroscience in Rehabilitation Kinesiology
  • Graduate student research
    • PhD supervisor for Michael Willams-Bell (2011—in progress). Working title: The Effects of Thermal Stress on Cognitive Decision Making in Firefighters.
    • Master of Health Sciences (MHSc) thesis supervisor for Jessica Bossé (2010-in progress). Working title: The Effect of Motor Training on Sensorimotor Integration.
    • MHSc thesis supervisor for Julian Daligadu (2010—in progress). Working title: The Role of the Cerebellum in Changes in Corticomotor Output Observed Following Motor Training.
    • MHSc thesis co-supervisor for Erin Dancey (2010—in progress). Working title: The Effect of Experimental Pain on Sensorimotor Integration and Cortico-motor Output.
    • MHSc thesis co-supervisor for Joanne Gourgouvelis (2010—in progress). Working title: The Role of Exercise in Promoting Hippocampal Activation and Improving Memory.
    • MHSc thesis supervisor for Ian Barker (2009 to 2011). Alterations in Neck Muscle Performance and Proprioception with Fatigue, Altered Posture and Recurrent Neck Pain.
    • MHSc thesis supervisor for Diana Gray (2009 to 2011). Development of Instruments to Assess Physiological and Physical Neck Pain Risk.
  • Grants
    • Canadian Foundation for Innovation John Evans Leader's Fund (CFI-JELF). Eye-Link II Tracking and EEgo MyLab Systems to study multi-sensory integration.
      • 2017, $64,676
    • Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC). Effects of altered input from the neck on upper limb sensorimotor integration.
      • 2016 (five years), $195,000
    • Austrailian Spinal Research Foundation and Hamblin Trust. The effects of a single session of chiropractic care on brain source connectivity.
      • 2014 to 2016, $106,000
    • Australian Spinal Research Foundation. The effect of chiropractic care on sensorimotor integration and its relationship to neck and upper limb function.
      • 2014 to 2015, $78,300
    • Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC). The effect of altering afferent input from the spine and limbs on sensorimotor integration.
      • 2011, $135,000.
    • Australian Spinal Research Foundation. The effect of chiropractic care on cerebellar function.
      • 2011, $80,000
    • Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Principal Investigator (PI)-sole investigator. The effect of altering afferent input from the spine and limbs on central sensorimotor integration.
      • 2010, $49,000
    • Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. PI-sole investigator. The effect of altering afferent input from the spine and limbs on central sensorimotor integration.
      • 2010, $49,000
    • Natural Sciences and Engineering Council. PI-sole investigator. The effect of altering afferent input from the spine and limbs on central sensorimotor integration.
      • 2010, $25,000
    • NSERC. PI-sole investigator. The effect of altering afferent input from the spine and limbs on central sensorimotor integration.
      • 2009 , $20,000
    • Australian Spinal Research Foundation Foundation Co-investigator with H. Haavik Taylor. Chiropractic care and Sensorimotor Integration.
      • 2008, AUS$45,550 
    • Australian Spinal Research Foundation Foundation. Co-investigator with H. Haavik Taylor and K. Holt, Sensorimotor Integration and falls in elderly. 
      • 2008, AUS$39,315 
    • Australian Spinal Research Foundation Foundation. Principal investigator with H. Haavik Taylor and J. Kruger, co-investigators/The effects of lumbopelvic adjustments on the function of the pelvic floor muscles.
      • 2007, $37,000
    • Auckland Medical Research Foundation.  PI-Travel grant. International Brain Research Organization World Congress Travel Grant.
      • 2007, $2,000
    • University of Auckland- Researcher’s Strategic Support Initiative Awards. PI. The effect of exercise on cortisol levels and neural function.
      • 2007, $35,000
    • Australian Spinal Research Foundation. PI. P. Marshall-co-investigator, Rehabilitation and Neck Pain.
      • 2005, $42,283
    • University of Auckland Staff Research Fund. 

    Sole investigator

    • Pelvic Floor Function in Elite Female Athletes imaged using magnetic resonance imaging and 3-D ultrasound.
      • 2005, $12,000
    • Auckland Medical Research Foundation. PI-travel grant. Travel grant to Movement Dysfunction conference in Edinburgh.
      • 2005, $2,000
    • Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research. PI-travel grant.Travel grant to Movement Dysfunction conference in Edinburgh. 
      • 2005, $2,000
  • Education
    • PhD Physiology, University of Auckland
    • MSc Physiology, University of Auckland
    • Doctor of Chiropractic, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
    • BA Life Sciences, Queen's University