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

Taylor Cleworth

Taylor Cleworth

Originally from southern Ontario, Taylor completed a bachelor’s degree at Brock University, majoring in Kinesiology, before moving to Vancouver to complete his master’s degree with Dr. Carpenter. During his MSc, Taylor’s research was used to validate the use of virtual reality as a novel method to induce states of increased fear and arousal, as well as examine the effects of fear on static and dynamic balance. More recently, his doctoral work has focused on understanding the influence of fear, anxiety, and physiological arousal on cortical processing and behavioural characteristics related to perceptions of somatosensory, vestibular and visual inputs during postural tasks.

Martin Zaback

Martin Zaback

Martin completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ontario. During this time, his research focused on understanding how personality and cognitive factors influence individuals’ behaviour when maintaining balance in situations where there is an increased consequence of falling. For his doctoral work, Martin is investigating the cognitive, physiological, and behavioural adaptations that individuals experience when repeatedly exposed to similar threat scenarios. His goal is to elucidate some of the psychological and physiological mechanisms underlying the relationship between postural threat and human balance control, as well as guide interventions for individuals whom experience anxiety associated with falling on a daily basis (e.g., frail elderly, individuals with neurological deficits).

Eveline Pasman

Eveline Pasman

Eveline is a PhD student in UBC's School of Kinesiology. She completed her medical degree in The Netherlands at the Radboud University Nijmegen. Her research focus is on balance impairment in patients with Parkinson's disease using different research techniques, including functional MRI. In her spare time, Eveline enjoys playing field hockey, sailing and kiteboarding. She's currently on leave from her PhD program to get experience working as a Neurology resident-not-in-training in the Spaarne Gasthuis hospital in Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Graduated Students

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

Brian Horslen – PhD (2016)
Chantelle Murnaghan – PhD (2013)
Adam Campbell – PhD (2012)
Justin Davis – PhD (2010)

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. Horslen BC, Inglis JT, Blouin JS, Carpenter MG. Both standing and postural threat decrease Achilles tendon reflex inhibition from tendon electrical stimulation. J Physiol (In press – doi: 10.1113/JP273935)
  2. Lim SB, Cleworth TW, Horslen BC, Blouin JS, Inglis JT, Carpenter MG. Postural Threat Influences Vestibular-Evoked Muscular Responses. J Neurophysiol 2017; 117:604-611
  3. Cleworth TW, Chua R; Inglis JT, Carpenter MG. Influence of virtual height exposure on postural reactions to support surface translations. Gait Posture 2016; 47:96-102.
  4. Lim S, Horslen BC, Davis J, Allum JHJ, Carpenter MG. Benefits of Multi-Session Balance and Gait Training with Multi-Modal Biofeedback in Healthy Older Adults. Gait Posture 2016; 47:10-7.
  5. Cleworth TW, Carpenter MG. Postural threat influences conscious perception of postural sway. Neurosci Lett 2016; 620:127-31.
  6. Squair JW, Bjerkefors A, Inglis JT, Lam T, Carpenter MG. Cortical and vestibular stimulation reveal preserved descending motor pathways in individuals with motor-complete spinal cord injury. J Rehab Med 2016; 48:589-96.
  7. Naranjo EN, Cleworth TW, Allum JH, Inglis JT, Lea J, Westerberg BD, Carpenter MG. Vestibulo-spinal and vestibulo-ocular reflexes are modulated when standing with increased postural threat. J Neurophysiol 2016; 115:833-42.
  8. Horslen BC, Dakin CJ, Inglis JT, Blouin JS, Carpenter MG. CrossTalk-Proposal: Fear of Falling Does Influence Vestibular-Evoked Balance Responses. J Physiol 2015; 593:2979-81.
  9. Naranjo E, Allum JHJ, Inglis JT, Carpenter MG. “Increased gain of vestibulospinal potentials evoked in neck and leg muscles when standing under height-induced postural threat”. Neuroscience 2015; 293:45-54.
  10. Bjerkefors A, Squair JW, Chua R, Lam T, Chen Z, Carpenter MG. Assessment of abdominal muscle function in individuals with motor complete spinal cord injury above T6 in response to transcranial magnetic stimulation and voluntary activation. J Rehabil Med 2015; 47:138-46.
  11. Horslen BC, Dakin CJ, Inglis JT, Blouin JS, Carpenter MG. Modulation of human vestibular reflexes with increased postural threat. J Physiol 2014; 592(Pt 16):3671-3685.
  12. Murnaghan CD, Squair JW, Chua R, Inglis JT, Carpenter MG. Cortical contributions to control of posture during unrestricted and restricted stance. J Neurophysiol 2014; 111:1920-6.


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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