Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory
UCF Division of Physical Therapy
Within the last decade it has become increasingly apparent that a person’s muscle strength is important not only for their physical fitness, but for their overall health. Muscle weakness independently predicts injury, illness, quality of life, and all-cause mortality. On the bright side, regular participation in strength training has been shown to reduce the risk of disease and injury while slowing down the aging process.
The mission of the UCF Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory is to perform cutting-edge research investigations to better understand the neuromuscular adaptations associated with strength training, muscle fatigue, aging, and disuse. We strive to serve as a collaborative think tank for researchers and clinicians, and are seeking out additional partnerships and opportunities not only within the state of Florida, but nationally and internationally. Our long-term goal is for our laboratory concepts and findings to support or challenge existing protocols employed by those striving to prevent disease and improve human performance. If you have interest in collaborating with us or would like to visit, we hope that you will contact us.
Meet Our Team
Matt S. Stock is an Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida (UCF) where he teaches within the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and directs the Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory. Stock obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. His research interests involve understanding the neuromuscular adaptations associated with resistance training, aging, and disuse. Studies in his laboratory utilize electromyography, motor unit recordings, transcranial magnetic stimulation, twitch interpolation, B-mode ultrasonography, and muscle strength assessments. He has published over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts in over 30 different journals. Stock is an active member of International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology, the American Physiological Society, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He is current President of the NSCA Foundation’s Board of Directors, serves as a Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, and is a member of the UCF IRB. He enjoys spending time in the laboratory while working with students on their research projects.
Jonathan Beausejour is a doctoral student in the School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy at the University of Central Florida. After obtaining his Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from Life University in Atlanta Georgia, he completed his master’s degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in Biomechanics at Auburn University. Beausejour previously worked as a personal trainer in the Auburn area and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. As an incoming research coordinator in Matt Stock’s Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory, Jonathan’s research interests include neuromuscular considerations in special populations, skeletal muscle fatigue, and muscle quality. In his spare time, he enjoys strength training, and hopes to contribute to the strength/conditioning and sport rehabilitation fields in the future.
Originally from upstate New York, Kylie Harmon obtained her Master’s degree from California State University, Fullerton and is now studying for her Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology at the University of Central Florida. An avid proponent of strength training, Kylie is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. Her research interests include muscular strength, aging, and neuromuscular control. In her spare time, Kylie enjoys spending time with her husband RoQue and their two dogs.
Ryan Girts is a Ph.D student in the Exercise Physiology program at the University of Central Florida. He obtained his Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and his Master’s degree in Sport and Exercise from the University of Central Florida. Ryan’s research interests include muscular strength, neuromuscular control, and hypertrophy. In his spare time, Ryan trains as a competitive bodybuilder.
Jason Pagan, B.S.
Originally from Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Jason Pagan is a graduate student pursuing a masters in Kinesiology at the University of Central Florida under the mentorship of Dr. Matt S. Stock in the Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory. He was the first person to represent the School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy in the Summer Mentoring Fellowship in the summer of 2021. Jason’s current research interests involve neuromuscular physiology and training adaptations. In the future, he plans on having a career in academia. Outside of research, his hobbies include bodybuilding and powerlifting.
- Brennan J. Thompson, Ph.D., Utah State University
- Jason M. DeFreitas, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University
- Xin Ye, Ph.D., Hartford University
- Youngdeok Kim, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
- Joshua C. Carr, Texas Christian University
- Jacob A. Mota, University of Alabama
- Gena Gerstner, Ph.D., Old Dominion University
- Michael Roberts, Ph.D., Auburn University
- Kaelin Young, Ph.D., Auburn University
The UCF Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory has the equipment, technology, and expertise needed to perform objective, well-controlled experiments. Much of our equipment is portable, making it easy to collect data not only in the laboratory, but also in clinics, hospitals, schools, and athletic settings. Our areas of specialization and associated equipment include:
Neuromuscular Physiology – The UCF Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory is particularly interested in understanding how the brain and spinal cord control muscles, and how this information changes in response to aging, disuse, and various exercise/rehabilitation interventions. This information can be studied during voluntary contractions or involuntarily via stimulation of the motor cortex, nerves, and muscles.
- Delsys Trigno wireless surface EMG system
- Delsys surface EMG signal decomposition analyses (dEMG)
- Magstim BiStim2 Transcranial magnetic stimulator
- DS7AH Constant Current Stimulator
Muscle Performance – Our laboratory’s primary research areas involve the analysis of muscle strength, weakness, and fatigue. Each of these measurements can be performed in conjunction with electromyography (EMG), which allows for a better understanding of the neuromuscular system’s control of muscle force. We believe that there is scientific value in studying the performance of an individual muscle group, as well as the whole body.
- Biodex System 4 isokinetic dynamometer
- AMTI Accupower portable force plate
- Custom-built isometric devices for testing of the knee extensors and elbow flexors
Body Composition and Muscle Size and Quality – Our laboratory has the ability to study body composition (i.e., body fat and muscle mass) with the use of ultrasound, DXA, and BIS measurements. These tools can be used to compare groups of individuals or track changes in muscle hypertrophy/atrophy or fat mass in response to various interventions. B-mode ultrasound also allows for imaging of tendons and ligaments.
- GE NextGen LOGIQ e Portable Ultrasound
- ImpediMed SFB7 bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) device
- GE Lunar dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
- Lange skinfold calipers and circumferences
Exercise Training – On occasion, our studies will involve training interventions in which members of the community will have the opportunity to engage in supervised exercise training. The UCF Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory has all of the exercise equipment needed to improve an individual’s muscle strength, fitness, and endurance.
- Sole TT8 Treadmill
- Sorinex Dark Horse Power Racks
- Rogue Ohio bar and Rogue B&R bar
- 500+ lbs. of free weights
Cardiorespiratory Fitness – Cardiorespiratory fitness is an important predictor of aerobic exercise performance and also has important health implications. Our laboratory is well-equipped to examine ability of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel and oxygen during sustained physical activity.
- ParvoMedics TrueOne® 2400 Metabolic Measurement System
- Spirometry and maximum voluntary ventilation assessment
- Lode Corival CPET Bike
Our laboratory makes a concerted effort to publish our findings in respected academic journals and present at regional, national, and international conferences. In addition to contributing to collective body of knowledge in a given field, presenting original data at conferences is a fun way for the lab’s students to enhance their self-confidence and network with other scientists.
UCF Neuromuscular Plasticity Laboratory
Education Complex and Gym, ED 174
4000 Central Florida Blvd
Orlando, FL 32816