The Neuromuscular Research Laboratory is pleased to announce that Felix Proessl successfully defended his dissertation entitled "Time-course of disuse-induced corticomotor plasticity: a precision TMS study" on Tuesday May 24th. By conducting a study that involved participants’ casting interventions and mental imagery, Dr. Proessl investigated how changes in behavior affect brain function. He used the performance of transcranial magnetic stimulation to assess the brain function of participants who came to the lab for 21 consecutive days and wore an upper extremity cast for seven of those days. Immobilization decreased strength and fine motor skill and altered the excitability of the brain within 48-72h. Such changes in muscle and brain function could be largely attenuated when performing mental imagery. Thus, this study demonstrated that the brain and body are in a bidirectional relationship, since changes in behavior rapidly changed muscle as well as brain function yet activation of brain circuits, in the absence of muscular contraction, could mitigate such deficits.
His committee members included Dr. Shawn Flanagan (Chair), Dr. Fabio Ferrarelli, Dr. Christopher Connaboy, Dr.Timothy Verstynen, and the defense was moderated by Dr. Adam Sterczala.