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Positive effects of exercise on neurological function


There is a growing body of evidence that exercise improves cognitive function and quality of life in a broad range of neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, and accelerates recovery in neuropathic pain. Treatments that increase physical activity may serve as a low-risk, non-toxic intervention that may not only accelerate cognitive recovery and recovery from neuropathic injury, but may also serve other protective functions as well.

However, little is known about how exercise accelerates recovery or protects the nervous system from these diseases. So we will explore the effect of exercise on the regulation of abnormal activity within the central nervous system in laboratory animal disease models. The general aim will be to identify the mechanisms by which exercise reduces the negative effects of disease in the laboratory so these findings can be translated to clinical applications.


Dr Ian Johnston.

Research location

School of Psychology

Program type



I am interested in the effect of a broad range of diseases on neurological function, such as cancer and cancer treatment, neuropathic pain, diabetes (and related metabolic diseases), and ageing. However, it will be possible to investigate the effects of exercise on other neurological diseases.

Initially, you will use animal models to investigate the neurobiology of exercise using a range of techniques: Immunohistochemistry, analysis of gene activity, small animal neuroimaging, pharmacological interventions, and behavioural testing. These preclinical studies can be supplemented with clinical research.

Additional information

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1613

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