Neural Control of Posture and Movement Lab – Dr. Mark G. Carpenter

The main objective of the lab is to identify the neural, musculo-skeletal and psychological factors that contribute to balance deficits and falls associated with age, Parkinson’s disease, vestibular loss and spinal cord injury. The second objective is to identify optimal exercise, training and treatment strategies to improve age and disease-specific balance deficits and reduce the occurrence and impact of falls.

The Neural Control of Posture and Movement Laboratory features a comprehensive approach to studying dynamic control of balance by combining various neuro-physiological and biomechanical techniques, including surface and intra-muscular electromyography, 3D full-body motion analysis and force measurement coupled with quantitative and qualitative assessment of perceived and physiological effects of fear and anxiety. Virtual environments have been integrated with unique moving balance platforms to manipulate balance-related anxiety and recreate the environmental conditions that lead to falls in everyday life.


Fear of Falling and Postural Control

Postural threat is manipulated by having participants stand on either real or virtual heights. This approach allows us to examine how changes in fear, anxiety and arousal may directly contribute to balance deficits and falls.

Origins of Balance Disorders

Using unique moving platforms designed to mimic real-life conditions that lead to falls, we are trying to identify the specific factors that may contribute to balance deficits in patients with balance disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, vestibular loss and spinal cord injury.

Postural Control of the Trunk

This research aims to understand the relative contribution of deep and superficial muscles of the trunk in normal and pathological control of reactive and anticipatory balance.

Our research would not be possible without the generous funding provided by the following agencies:

  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Canada Foundation and Innovation
  • BC Knowledge Development Foundation
  • Parkinson Society of Canada
  • Canadian Institute for Health Research
  • National Parkinson Foundation


Lab Director

Mark Carpenter

Mark G. Carpenter, PhD

Associate Director Research, School of Kinesiology

Post-Secondary Education

PhD Kinesiology, University of Waterloo (1998-2001)
MSc Kinesiology, University of Waterloo (1996-1998)
BSc Honours Kinesiology, University of Waterloo (1992-1996)

Employment Record

Professor, University of British Columbia (2015-present)
Tier II Canada Research Chair, University of British Columbia (2005-2015)
NSERC Post-doctoral Fellow, Karolinska Institute, Sweden (2002-2004)
Post-doctoral Researcher, University of Waterloo (2002)
Post-doctoral Researcher, University of Basel (2001)

Academic Memberships

President- International Society of Posture and Gait Research
Centre Investigator - Brain Research Centre, UBC
Associate Member - International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries
Advisory Board Member - Balance and Dizziness Disorder Society
Member - International Society of Posture and Gait Research
Member - Society for Neuroscience
Member – American Physiological Society

Current Students

Kyle Missen

Kyle completed his bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and master’s degree in Kinesiology at Brock University. His research integrates sensorimotor manipulations, system identification methods, and neuromechanical modelling to understand the fundamental mechanisms underlying the control of static and dynamic balance.

Keara Sutherland

Keara completed her BSc(Hons) in Human Kinetics at the University of Guelph and a master's in Kinesiology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her master's research examined the muscular activity in the lower leg and foot during slip recovery. She has recently moved to Vancouver to pursue a PhD with Dr. Carpenter to continue to investigate underlying mechanisms that contribute to static and dynamic balance control.


Emma Reiter

Emma began her MSc with Dr. Carpenter in 2020, after completing her Bachelor’s in Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology. Emma enjoys research topics that connect her interests in kinesiology, psychology, and neuroscience. Her projects have focused on postural control and emotional-cognitive state, investigating interactions with postural threat and gaze behaviour, and applying sex- and gender-based analyses. Her current thesis project utilizes eye movements to explore interactions between oculomotor and postural control. In her free time, Emma enjoys hiking, camping, cycling, and taking too many photos of everything.


Heather Pudwell

Heather graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in 2019. Since moving to Vancouver in 2021 to start her Master’s degree, she has been working on two projects going on in the lab. The first is aiming to compare the effects of height-induced postural threat on control of whole-body and upper-limb postural control. The second project is working with patients with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) and sensory ganglionopathy to investigate how these conditions and their treatments affect standing balance control.

Josh Donald

Josh completed his BSc. with minors in Biology and Chemistry at Mount Royal University in Calgary, AB. His undergraduate research was focused on cerebellar-vestibular interactions in standing balance in both healthy and clinical populations. He has recently moved to Vancouver to pursue his MSc. in Kinesiology under the supervision of Dr. Carpenter. In his free time, Josh enjoys both playing and officiating ice hockey, skiing, and golfing.

Solenne Villemer

Solenne completed her BSc. in Neuroscience at Université de Montréal, Quebec. She just moved to Vancouver to pursue her MSc. in Kinesiology at UBC under the supervision of Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Inglis. In her spare time, Solenne enjoys figure skating, painting, stargazing and spending time at the beach.

Xiangwei Zhang

Xiangwei completed her bachelor's degree in Interactive Art and Technology in Simon Fraser University. She has done several projects about human body interface, and wearable devices for rehabilitation. As a student who has spent past four years studying various kinds of interactive methods, including wearables and Virtual Reality technologies, she always believes that these technologies will not only stay at the stage of entertainment, but for building human body and recovering in medical area. Wearable devices or VR technology should be designed by someone who understands the human body. Therefore, she started her MSc. in Kinesiology at UBC in 2022 FALL. Xiangwei is an ACE certified personal trainer, and an SSI certified free diving instructor. She enjoyed skiing, running, bodybuilding, and free diving before she broke her leg.


Graduated Students

Romain Tisserand - Post-doc
Anna Bjerkefors – Post-doc (2012)
Ursula Kueng – Post-doc (2010)

Martin Zaback - PhD (2021)
Eveline Pasman - PhD (2020)
Taylor Cleworth – PhD (2018)
Brian Horslen – PhD (2016)
Chantelle Murnaghan – PhD (2013)
Adam Campbell – PhD (2012)
Justin Davis – PhD (2010)

Margot Schmidt – MSc (2021)
Emma Nielsen – MSc (2020)
Eduardo Naranjo – MSc (2015)
Jordan Squair – MSc (2014)
Shannon Lim – MSc (2014)
Taylor Cleworth – MSc (2013)
Brian Horslen – MSc (2010)
Carolyn Geh – MSc (2009)
Katherine Pauhl – MSc (2008)

Recent Key Publications

  1. Nielsen EI, Cleworth TW, Carpenter MG. Exploring emotional-modulation of visually evoked postural responses through virtual reality.  Neurosci Lett. 2022 Apr 23;777:136586. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2022.136586. Epub 2022 Mar 21. PMID: 35331814
  2. Zaback M, Adkin AL, Chua R, Inglis JT, Carpenter MG. Facilitation and Habituation of Cortical and Subcortical Control of Standing Balance Following Repeated Exposure to a Height-related Postural Threat. Neuroscience. 2022 Apr 1;487:8-25. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2022.01.012. Epub 2022 Jan 24. PMID: 35085706
  3. Pasman EP, McKeown MJ, Garg S, Cleworth TW, Bloem BR, Inglis JT, Carpenter MG. Brain connectivity during simulated balance in older adults with and without Parkinson’s disease.  Neuroimage Clin. 2021;30:102676. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2021.102676. Epub 2021 Apr 16. PMID: 34215147
  4. Zaback M, Reiter ER, Adkin AL, Carpenter MG. Initial experience of balance assessment introduces ‘first trial’ effects on emotional state and postural control.  Gait Posture. 2021 Jul;88:116-121. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2021.05.013. Epub 2021 May 15. PMID: 34034022
  5. Orcioli-Silva D, Pasman EP, Gobbi LTB, Beauchamp MR, Carpenter MG. Effects of social anxiety on static and dynamic balance task assessment in older women.  Gait Posture. 2021 May;86:174-179. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2021.03.018. Epub 2021 Mar 9. PMID: 33751969
  6. Zaback M, Luu MJ, Adkin AL, Carpenter MG. Selective preservation of changes to standing balance control despite psychological and autonomic habituation to a postural threat.  Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 11;11(1):384. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-79417-5. PMID: 33431937
  7. Carpenter MG, Campos JL. The Effects of Hearing Loss on Balance: A Critical Review.  Ear Hear. 2020 Nov/Dec;41 Suppl 1:107S-119S. doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000929. PMID: 33105265 Review.
  8. Vermehren M, Carpenter MG. Virtual postural threat facilitates the detection of visual stimuli.  Neurosci Lett. 2020 Sep 25;736:135298. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2020.135298. Epub 2020 Aug 7. PMID: 32771602
  9. Cleworth TW, Allum JHJ, Luu MJ, Lea J, Westerberg BW, Carpenter MG. The Effect of Unilateral Vestibular Loss on Standing Balance During Postural Threat.  Otol Neurotol. 2020 Aug;41(7):e945-e951. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000002485. PMID: 32658112
  10. Kluft N, Bruijn SM, Luu MJ, Dieën JHV, Carpenter MG, Pijnappels M. The influence of postural threat on strategy selection in a stepping-down paradigm.  Sci Rep. 2020 Jul 2;10(1):10815. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-66352-8. PMID: 32616778
  11. Pasman EP, McKeown MJ, Cleworth TW, Bloem BR, Inglis JT, Carpenter MG. A Novel MRI Compatible Balance Simulator to Detect Postural Instability in Parkinson’s Disease.  Front Neurol. 2019 Aug 28;10:922. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.00922. eCollection 2019. PMID: 31555197
  12. Zaback M, Adkin AL, Carpenter MG. Adaptation of emotional state and standing balance parameters following repeated exposure to height-induced postural threat.  Sci Rep. 2019 Aug 28;9(1):12449. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48722-z. PMID: 31462652
  13. Cleworth TW, Adkin AL, Allum JHJ, Inglis JT, Chua R, Carpenter MG. Postural Threat Modulates Perceptions of Balance-Related Movement During Support Surface Rotations.  Neuroscience. 2019 Apr 15;404:413-422. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.02.011. Epub 2019 Feb 18. PMID: 30790669
  14. Horslen BC, Zaback M, Inglis JT, Blouin JS, Carpenter MG. Increased human stretch reflex dynamic sensitivity with height-induced postural threat.  J Physiol. 2018 Nov;596(21):5251-5265. doi: 10.1113/JP276459. Epub 2018 Oct 9. PMID: 30176053
  15. Cleworth TW, Inglis JT, Carpenter MG. Postural threat influences the conscious perception of body position during voluntary leaning.  Gait Posture. 2018 Oct;66:21-25. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.08.003. Epub 2018 Aug 8. PMID: 30138743
  16. Tran S, Shafiee M, Jones CB, Garg S, Lee S, Pasman EP, Carpenter MG, McKeown MJ. Subthreshold stochastic vestibular stimulation induces complex multi-planar effects during standing in Parkinson’s disease.  Brain Stimul. 2018 Sep-Oct;11(5):1180-1182. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2018.04.020. Epub 2018 Apr 27. PMID: 29776860
  17. Zaback M, Horslen BC, Cleworth TW, Collings L, Langlet C, Inglis JT, Carpenter MG. Influence of emotional stimuli on lower limb cutaneous reflexes during human gait.  Neurosci Lett. 2018 Jan 18;664:123-127. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.11.013. Epub 2017 Nov 8. PMID: 29128629

For a more comprehensive list of publications, please see:


Please contact Dr. Mark Carpenter ( if interested in inquiring about graduate supervision, volunteer opportunities, or to participate as a subject in one of our ongoing studies.”

Contact Us

Laboratory Location:
Osborne Centre Unit 2, Room 124K
6108 Thunderbird Blvd
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C.
V6T 1Z3

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