PHYSIOL 3120 - Neuromotor Control of Human Movement

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2022

Neuromotor Control of Human Movement is a third year course that consists of lectures, workshops, and practical experiences. In this course, students will develop an advanced knowledge of human motor control, with particular emphasis on the control of movement by the nervous system. Topics covered in the lecture and workshop stream involve a neurophysiological approach to the understanding of neural connections and structures, motor behaviour and adaptation, how neuromotor function is influenced by specific movement disorders, and strategies for neurorehabilitation. The practical component involves hands-on experience with advanced skills in neurophysiological techniques commonly used in research and clinical settings to assess and quantify the control of human movement. The workshops will provide a unique opportunity for students to undertake small group discussion and critical review of the neural control of human movement and its disorders.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHYSIOL 3120
    Course Neuromotor Control of Human Movement
    Coordinating Unit Medical Sciences
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Prerequisites PHYSIOL 2510
    Assessment Laboratory quizzes and reports, lecture quizzes, mid-semester and end of semester exam.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor John Semmler

    Course Coordinator: John Semmler
    Phone: +61 8 8313 7192
    Location: Room S428, Medical School South

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Describe the structure and function of the sensory and motor systems, and to understand the generation and control of human movement.
    2 Understand the major somatosensory receptors for position and movement, the information they convey, and the major pathways that convey this information to the central nervous system.
    3 Describe the major structural characteristics and functional roles of the motor cortex, cerebellum, basal ganglia and the brain stem in movement control.
    4 Describe the neural organisation of locomotion, including central pattern generators, brainstem areas and spinal cord organisation.
    5 Describe the major changes in the neural control of movement that occur throughout the lifespan, and how these change with training and fatigue.
    6 Understand the neural factors that contribute to neuromotor adaptation with increase and decreased muscle use.
    7 Understand the role of neuroplasticity in improvements in motor function and how it may be used in the rehabilitation of motor function after injury.
    8 Describe the motor deficits that accompany common disorders of the somatosensory system, basal ganglia, cerebellum, and motor cortex.
    9 Demonstrate an ability to use neurophysiological procedures for assessing and quantifying human movement.
    10 Understand the scientific method and the critical review of the research process as it applies to the neural control of human movement.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    In Neuromotor Control of Human Movement, there are no required textbooks. The material covered is largely derived from reviews and original articles in the scientific literature.
    Recommended Resources
    E books (available via university library website)
    Mark Latash and Francis Lestienne (eds) Motor Control and Learning, Springer, 2006

    Eric Kandel, James Schwartz, Thomas Jessell: Principles of Neural Science (Fourth Edition) McGraw Hill, 2000.
    Mark Latash, Neurophysiological Basis of Movement (2nd Edition), Human Kinetics, 2008.
    Philip F. Gardiner: Neuromuscular Aspects of Physical Activity, Human Kinetics, 2001.
    Philip F. Gardiner: Advanced Neuromuscular Exercise Physiology, Human Kinetics, 2011.
    Roger M. Enoka: Neuromechanics of Human Movement (Fourth Edition), Human Kinetics, 2008.

    Journals (available online for University students)
    Journal of Applied Physiology
    Journal of Neurophysiology
    Motor Control
    Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
    Journal of Physiology
    Human Movement Science
    Experimental Brain Research
    Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
    Brain Stimulation
    Journal of Motor Behavior
    Muscle and Nerve
    Online Learning
    Textual and audiovisual material will be provided online regularly through MyUni to assist with learning of topics covered in lectures as well as assessment preparation. In addition, all lectures will be delivered entirely online, and will be supplemented by face-to-face lecture topic discussions (workshops). As such, students are reminded to view MyUni often throughout the semester as it is assumed that information that is posted there will be read by all students.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The course will be delivered via online lectures, workshops, practicals and tutorials, which will be supplemented by electronic learning materials in the MyUni environment. Practical sessions will provide the opportunity for students to gain hands on experience with advanced skills in neurophysiological techniques used in understanding the control of human movement. Tutorials will be held to extend the learning of the lecture material using a case study approach. The students understanding of the material will be assessed using written assessments and quizzes.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    A full-time student should expect to spend, on average, a total of 48 hours per week on their studies. This includes both the formal contact time required for the course (e.g. lectures, tutorials, practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g. reading and revision). Neuromotor Control of Human Movement is a 3 unit course. As such, the expected workload will on average be 12 hours per week, including up to 4 contact hours per week.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Students will cover the following topics in a series of formal lectures, practicals and tutorials.

    Week Theme Theoretical Component (Workshop)
    Practical (2 hrs)
    1 2  
    1   Introduction and Overview Introduction and Overview
    2  BLOCK A: Neuromotor System Function Action Potentials and EMG Motor Units Laboratory 1: EMG
    3   Synapses Assessing Brain Function
    4 Reflexes I Reflexes II Laboratory 2: Reflexes and Reaction Times
    5 Organisation of Movement Motor Cortical Areas
    6   Basal Ganglia and Cerebellum Somatosensory System
    Paper A
    8  BLOCK B:Neuromotor Behaviour & Adaptation Proprioception Locomotion Laboratory 3: Sensory Illusions
    9 Cortical Plasticity Plasticity and Rehabilitation
    10   Ageing Fatigue Laboratory 4: Electroencephalography
    11   Strength Training Reduced Use
    12   Muscle Damage Endurance Training
    13 Paper B
    Specific Course Requirements
    There are no specific requirements for this course.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Details of each assessment task are shown below. In brief, the course contains 2 written exams covering lecture material, and a number of summative assignments in tutorials and lectures. Dates and explicit details for each assessment task will be given in advance via MyUni.

    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Written exams Summative 60% 1-3
    Pre-Laboratory Quiz Summative 10% 9
    Laboratory Reports Summative 10% 9
    Lecture Quizzes Summative 20% 9-10
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Marks for the different components of the course are assigned in the following proportions.

    Written Exams (60% of total mark)

    Paper A 30%

    Paper B 30%

    Practical Components - (20% of total mark)

    Pre-Laboratory Quiz 10%

    Laboratory Activities 10%

    Lecture Components - (20% of total mark)

    Lecture Quizzes 20%

    Assessment Detail
    Note that the final marks for Neuromotor Control of Human Movement may be moderated under some circumstances. Moderation is only ever used to improve a mark or grade, not to decrease it.

    Exams are designed to assess learning over Weeks 2-6 (Paper A) and Weeks 8-12 (Paper B). Students must sit each exam and achieve a combined grade of 50% or higher to be eligible to pass the course overall. These exams will assess understanding of principles and problem solving (both written and computational) capabilities. Questions will be based around lecture and practical material delivered throughout the semester.

    Students will complete a laboratory quiz that will be administered online and be due before each laboratory. The questions will cover the background reading in preparation for the laboratory.

    Students will be required to submit a laboratory report at the end of the laboratory session that includes details of data collection, analysis and interpretation.

    Students will receive a quiz on the pre-released online lecture material during each in-class lectorial session.

    Hurdle Requirements and Course Criteria
    To successfully pass the course students must achieve all of the following criteria:
    - Achieving a final combined mark for theory papers A and B of 50% or higher.
    - Complete all practical assignments to a passable standard
    Any student not meeting these barrier requirements will not be eligible to pass the course, regardless of performance in other components.

    Submission of work for assessment
    Staff will clearly indicate the deadline (date and time) for coursework submission in the course information contained within MyUni. In addition, assessment deadlines will be announced via MyUni at least 7 days prior to the submission deadline. Unless otherwise indicated, coursework should be submitted electronically via MyUni. Any students experiencing technical difficulties should contact the course coordinator at the earliest opportunity. Coursework submitted to any location other than those specified will not be accepted. This includes submissions to personal staff email addresses.

    Extensions for Assessment Tasks
    Submission dates may be extended under exceptional circumstances. Please see the course coordinator at the earliest opportunity if you feel that you require an extension. Upon receipt of an application for extension, staff may:
    - Refuse permission for extension, specifying the appropriate reason(s); or
    - Grant permission for extension without penalty; or
    - Grant permission for extension with a penalty as guided by this policy.

    Please note that assessments handed in late to 3rd year courses will receive a penalty of 30% of the mark for each day late, with a mark of zero after 3 days. Any potential difficulties in meeting assessment deadlines should be discussed in good time with the course coordinator. Please note that attendance at all practical sessions is expected. Occasional absences for medical, compassionate, or other reasons are OK, but these need to be justified with appropriate documentation. Anticipated absences should be cleared with the course co-ordinator, and the rest of the group informed.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

    Replacement Exams Policy
    This applies to ALL exams, including those held during class, not just those at the end of semester exam period
    (1) Students seeking a replacement examination must refer to the University policy. The policy and an application form can be downloaded from the following site:

    (2) For all assessments other than the final exam, requests for replacement examinations should be made by submission of the completed form and supporting documentation to the Medical Sciences Teaching Resource Centre (MSTRC) located on level 4, Medical School South. For the final exam, applications for supplementary assessment must be directed to your Faculty Office. If the illness or exceptional personal circumstance occurred before the exam, students must submit their application for supplementary assessment no later than 5 business days after the occurrence of the condition, illness and/or exceptional personal circumstances, which form the grounds on which their application is made, regardless of the date of the primary exam. If the illness or exceptional personal circumstance occurred on the day of the exam, students must notify an examination supervisor and apply for a supplementary exam within 5 business days of the date of the primary exam. The application will be considered by the School of Medical Sciences Examinations Committee who will decide the outcome based on the materials provided by the student in support of their application and in line with the policies of both the University and the Faculty of Health Sciences.

    (3) The School Examinations Committee will not approve applications for supplementary examinations where the nature of the illness is considered minor. This decision cannot be made where no evidence is provided as to the severity of the illness. We strongly respect the right of students to keep the specific nature of their illness confidential. However the new University Policy on Replacement exams requires your medical practioner to complete sections 3 and 4 of the appropriate form (see certifying that they considered your illness to be major. Replacement examinations cannot be approved without this certification (i.e. on the basis of a medical certificate alone). Students are strongly advised to take a copy of this form with them for completion by their medical practitioner at the time of their consultation.

    SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING ACADEMIC SUPPS: Academic supps cannot be applied for. They may be offered at the discretion of the School of Medical Sciences examinations committee, to permit students to re-sit either one or all of the examination papers if their overall performance was close to the required level (45% average standard).
  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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