Alan Pearce

Alan Pearce
La Trobe University · School of Allied Health

PhD

About

229
Publications
143,685
Reads
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Citations
Introduction
My research focuses on the neurophysiology of sports-related concussion, and the neurophysiology of exercise and strength training, using non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) techniques including single/paired pulse TMS, repetitive TMS and tDCS. I am Director of NeuroSports Labs (https://www.neurosportslabs.com) and also the Research Manager of the Australian Sports Brain Bank (https://www.brainbank.org.au). Twitter and Instagram: @alanpearcephd
Skills and Expertise
Additional affiliations
October 2015 - January 2017
Swinburne University of Technology
Position
  • A/Professor
February 2012 - June 2015
Deakin University
Position
  • Senior Research Fellow
October 2011 - present
University of Melbourne
Position
  • Senior Research Fellow (Adjunct)
Education
February 1996 - December 1999
February 1992 - November 1995

Publications

Publications (229)
Article
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Background: Concussion is regarded as a common injury in rugby league, however no studies have explored the long-term neurophysiological and cognitive effects of repeated concussion injuries in this sport. Methods: Former professional rugby athletes (n=25) were compared to 25 age-matched participants with no history of a concussion. All participan...
Article
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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative tauopathy caused by repetitive head injury. Although it has chiefly been studied in contact sport participants, anyone who experiences repetitive head injury is at risk of CTE. It is associated with a range of neuro-psychological problems, ranging from mood and behavioural symptoms to co...
Article
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Aim: This study investigated the somatosensory and corticomotor physiology of retired contact sport athletes with a history of repeated concussion/subconcussion head trauma. Methods: Retired male athletes with a history of playing contact sports and repeated head trauma (n=122) were divided into two groups: those who expressed concerns regarding th...
Article
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The first case report of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a National Football League player in 2005 opened the floodgates for the identification of CTE in American football. CTE is now reported in ex-players of other contact sports, including ice hockey, soccer, rugby union, and most recently in Australian rugby league. To date, repetitive...
Article
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Concussion injury results in a rapid onset of transient neurological impairment that can resolve quickly, or sometimes evolve over time, but usually resolve within seven to ten days. However, a small but noticeable cohort (~10%) of individuals continue to experience persistent lingering effects, particularly fatigue, and recognized as post-concussi...
Article
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In this Perspective we explore the evolution of our understanding of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and its relationship with repetitive head injury. As with many neurodegenerative conditions, there is an imperfect correspondence between neuropathology and clinical phenotype, but unlike other neurodegenerative diseases, CTE has a discrete a...
Preprint
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Objectives: This exploratory study quantified professional Australian rules football players transitioning from the Australian Football League (AFL), comparing responses between retiring and delisted players and if the experience of exiting an AFL club influenced the athlete transition process.Design: Online survey research.Method: Identified male...
Article
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RECENT revelations of plagiarism by Australian sports neurologist Dr Paul McCrory () have sent shockwaves through professional sporting bodies internationally. As a leading member of the international Concussion in Sport Group (CISG) for over 20 years, Dr McCrory’s downfall has cast doubt over international consensus guidelines for the management o...
Article
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The focus of this study was to interview retired professional rugby union players (≤10 years since retirement) to discuss their careers in the game of rugby union. These interviews explored their experiences of being a professional rugby player, with respect to physical injury, concussion incidence and concussion management. In addition, the aims w...
Article
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Objective: This study explored psychophysiological stress in professional Australian Rules football athletes across the course of one competitive season. Methods: A sample of eight players listed with one professional Australian football club participated in this study. Each week during the competitive season (22 weeks), players self-reported their...
Article
Objectives The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of an isometric neck strengthening program to improve isometric neck strength in elite women's football-code athletes. Design Randomised controlled trial. Method Elite female soccer (n = 10) and Australian football (n = 30) players were randomised into either a control (n =...
Article
Ballistic motor training induces plasticity changes and imparts a cross-transfer effect. However, whether there are age-related differences in these changes remain unclear. Thus, the purpose of this study was to perform a meta-analysis to determine the corticospinal responses and cross-transfer of motor performance following ballistic motor trainin...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Concussion in sport is an ongoing global concern. The head injury assessment (HIA) by the field of play is acknowledged as the first step in recognising and identifying concussion. While previous systematic literature reviews have evaluated the sensitivity of sideline screening tools and assessment protocols, no systematic review has eva...
Article
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Objective: To document baseline King-Devick (K-D) oculomotor function scores for male and female participants aged between 4 and 20 years old. Methods: Utilising a cross section of schools, rugby clubs and gymnastic clubs, 1936 participants (1300 male, 636 female) completed the spiral-bound K-D test for the identification of disturbed oculomotor...
Article
Full-text available
Background : Management of concussion remains a serious issue for professional sports, particularly with the growing knowledge on the consequences of repetitive concussion. One primary concern is the subjective assessment of recovery that dictates the time until a concussed athlete is returned to competition. In response to this concern, the Austra...
Article
The corticospinal responses to high-intensity and low-intensity strength-training of the upper limb are modulated in an intensity-dependent manner. Whether an intensity-dependent threshold occurs following acute strength training of the knee extensors (KE) remains unclear. We assessed the corticospinal responses following high-intensity (85% of max...
Article
Full-text available
Five international consensus statements on concussion in sports have been published. This commentary argues that there is a strong need for a new approach to them that foregrounds public health expertise and patient-centered guidance. Doing so will help players, parents and practitioners keep perspective about these potentially life-altering injuri...
Article
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Purpose of Review Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a continuing healthcare concern worldwide contributing to significant cognitive and neurological impairment, consequently affecting activities of daily living. While mTBI recovery is becoming well studied, there are no interventions to reduce the known impairments of mTBI. Omega-3 fatty acids...
Article
Full-text available
Five international consensus statements on concussion in sports have been published. This commentary argues that there is a strong need for a new approach to them that foregrounds public health expertise and patient-centered guidance. Doing so will help players, parents, and practitio- ners keep perspective about these potentially life- altering in...
Article
Full-text available
The issue of concussion in sport continues to be discussed widely in the community as current and retired players reveal personal experiences, and concerns, about the long-term sequelae of their concussive injuries. This is the first study to examine evolving attitudes and beliefs towards concussion in sport by comparing data in an Australian exerc...
Article
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BACKGROUND: Previous studies suggest that cross-education of strength may be modulated by increased corticospinal excitability of the ipsilateral primary motor cortex (M1) due to cross-activation. However, no study has examined the influence of bilateral TDCS of both M1 and how it affects corticospinal excitability, cross-activation and cross-educa...
Article
Full-text available
Sports-related concussion (SRC) is a complex and heterogeneous injury with psychological, cognitive and functional consequences. Advances in diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) allow sensitive measurement of white matter pathology post-SRC and may provide insight into injury and recovery. We systematically reviewed and meta-analyzed the lit...
Article
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Emerging research has studied in-game metrics of athletes after returning from concussion injury in an attempt to determine if performance is compromised. The aim of this meta- analysis was to quantify performance metrics in professional athletes prior to and following recovery from concussion. We conducted systematic literature searches in databas...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Management of concussion remains a serious issue for professional sports, particularly with the growing knowledge on the consequences of repetitive concussion. One primary concern is the subjective assessment of recovery that dictates the time until a concussed athlete is returned to competition. In response to this concern, the Australi...
Article
Full-text available
Emerging evidence of brain injury on risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) have resulted in interest in therapeutic potential of omega-3 fatty acids (n-3FA). We conducted a systematic review of n-3FA therapeutic efficacy for ageing adults at risk of AD/CTE following a history...
Article
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The objective of this systematic literature review was to evaluate the evidence regarding the development of neck strength in reducing concussion and cervical spine injuries in adult amateur and professional sport populations. PubMed, CINAHL, Science Direct, and Web of Science databases were searched systematically. The criteria for inclusion in th...
Article
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Considerable attention has focused on the risks of contact sports like rugby union, yet the benefits, rewards and opportunities have received less robust analysis. It is for that reason, Griffin et al.'s recent scoping review is a welcome preliminary contribution to our understanding of risk in rugby. There are, however, some concerns that deserve...
Article
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Purpose: Cross-education (CE) increases strength of both the trained and untrained limb, with emerging evidence, suggesting CE could be used to attenuate muscle strength and thickness following periods of limb immobilization. This study examined the available evidence for the clinical efficacy of CE to attenuate muscle strength, thickness and neura...
Article
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Elite competitive sport is linked with a unique collection of stressors distinct from the general population. While there have been advancements in understanding the role that stressors play within the elite sporting environment, uncertainty still exists around a clear process for measuring stressors, and their specific relationship to injury. A nu...
Article
A single bout of aerobic exercise (AE) may induce changes in the excitability of the intracortical circuits of the primary motor cortex (M1). Similar to noninvasive brain stimulation techniques, such as transcranial direct current stimulation, AE could be used as a priming technique to facilitate motor learning. This review examined the effect of A...
Chapter
Introductory chapter to the book explaining the evolving links between neuroscience and exercise science.
Chapter
Understanding motor control is through learning the macro and the micro arrangement of the nervous system. In this chapter, we will focus on the macro: structural, functional and hierarchical organisation of movement. In chapters four and five, we will discuss how motor control occurs through neuromodulation and neuroplastic changes. The study of n...
Chapter
The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of the non-invasive techniques that are used to assess neurophysiological function in humans during exercise.
Chapter
This chapter will focus on and discuss the neurophysiology and associated motor control outcomes following eccentric exercise resulting in DOMS. This includes strength and power loss and regain, impairment of function and motor skill changes.
Chapter
This chapter will overview the functional injury definition of concussion, then discuss the pathophysiology of concussion leading into the advantages and disadvantages of the electrophysiological methods presented in this chapter, and key variables measured in concussion/mTBI research.
Book
Full-text available
This textbook introduces the key concepts that emphasise human motor control and its application to exercise science and rehabilitation. The topics covered integrate research, theory and the clinical applications of Exercise Neuroscience that will support students, researchers and clinicians to understand how the nervous system responds, or adapts...
Article
Educational interventions aimed at increasing concussion knowledge and attitudes are designed according to different frameworks. The aim of this systematic review of the literature was to determine the effects of educational interventions on concussion knowledge and attitudes, while providing recommendations for future research in the area of concu...
Article
Objective: To investigate the use of the King-Devick (K-D) test for sideline assessment of concussive injuries in a New Zealand amateur women's rugby union team. Design: Prospective cohort observational. Methods: All players were K-D tested during pre-season using a tablet (iPad; Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA). Differences in K-D scores and test-retest...
Article
Full-text available
Reaction time testing is widely used in online computerized concussion assessments, and most concussion studies utilizing the metric have demonstrated varying degrees of difference between concussed and non-concussed individuals. The problem with most of these online concussion assessments is that they predominantly rely on consumer grade technolog...
Article
Concerns about concussion in contact sport have permeated debate within sports medicine. Considerable scientific attention has been focussed on the short-term and long-term outcomes of concussions, as well as the strategies to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury. The practicalities and impact of altering rules (laws) in sport—including the ev...
Article
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Aim: This systematic review and meta-analysis investigated neurophysiological responses using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) following a concussion or sub-concussion. Methods: A systematic searching of relevant databases for peer-reviewed literature quantifying motor evoked potentials from TMS between 1999 and 2019. A meta-analysis quanti...
Article
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Purpose: To determine whether corticospinal excitability (CSE) and inhibition are differentially modulated following high-volume light-load strength training compared to low-volume heavy-load strength training. We hypothesised high-volume light-load strength training would increase CSE and low-volume heavy-load strength training would reduce intrac...
Article
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Background. Resistance-training causes changes in the central nervous system (CNS); however, the sites of these adaptations remain unclear. Objective To determine sites of neural adaptation to resistance-training by conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis on the cortical and subcortical responses to resistance-training. Methods. Evidence f...
Article
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Objective: The King-Devick (K-D) test is a rapid visual screening tool that can assess underlying brain trauma such as concussion via impairments in saccadic rhythm. A new tablet version of the K-D test using randomised numbers is now available, but reliability for this new version, as well as comparison to the traditional K-D test has not yet been...
Article
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Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that utilizes weak direct currents to induce polarity-dependent modulation of corticospinal excitability. Although tDCS exerts a modulatory effect over the stimulation region, several studies have also demonstrated that distal areas of the brain...
Article
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Background: The effect of warming-up prior to exercise on increased neuromuscular transmission speed remains largely untested. Objective: This study used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) to quantify neuromuscular transmission along the corticospinal tract (CST) before and after a warm-up protocol of the...
Article
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Purpose: The motor cortex (M1) appears to be a primary site of adaptation following both a single session, and repeated strength-training sessions across multiple weeks. Given that a single session of strength-training is sufficient to induce modification at the level of the M1 and corticospinal tract, this study sought to determine how these acute...
Article
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This study determined whether there are task-dependent differences in cortical excitability following different types of strength training. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) measured corticospinal excitability (CSE) and intracortical inhibition (ICI) of the biceps brachii muscle in 42 healthy subjects that were randomised to either paced-stre...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The Australian Sports Brain Bank was established in March 2108 with the aim of characterising the spectrum of neurodegenerative disease among ex-players of Australian contact sports. To date, the ASBB has received over 250 pledges and ten post-mortem brain donations. We will present the clinical and pathological findings of our completed brain exam...
Article
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Persistent post concussion symptoms (PPCS) describe the condition when an individual experiences chronic symptoms, particularly fatigue, beyond the expected time of recovery. The aim of this study was to quantify the effect of fatigue and related ongoing symptoms on somatosensory and corticomotor pathways using reaction time (RT) testing, and singl...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: The recognition and management of concussion has become a major health concern across all sports. Despite recent attention, concussion assessment and return-to-play protocols appear to be highly variable between leading professional sporting bodies across Australia. Without readily available guidelines, players at all levels may be at r...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background and Aims: The Australian Sports Brain Bank launched in March 2018, as a collaboration between the Neuropathology Department of RPA Hospital and the Brain & Mind Centre, University of Sydney. The aim of the ASBB is to describe the spectrum of neurodegenerative disease that may be associated with sporting and non-sporting concussion in Aus...
Article
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Background There is a paucity of studies reporting on women’s injuries in rugby union. Objective The aim of this systematic review was to describe the injury epidemiology for women’s rugby-15s and rugby-7s match and training environments. Methods Systematic searches of PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science Core Collection, Scopus, CINAHL(EBSCO) and...
Article
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Purpose Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) usually investigates the corticospinal responses of the agonist muscle to strength training, despite the role of the antagonist muscle in strength development. We examined the intracortical responses from an agonist and antagonist muscle following a single session of heavy-loaded strength training (do...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Sport-related concussion is a growing public health concern. Defined as a injury that disturbs neurological functions, concussion is characterised by a constellation of signs and symptoms. However, clinical imaging methods do not reveal any structural damage. Recently, neurophysiological techniques such as single and paired-pulse transc...
Article
Full-text available
This article updates coaches and tennis sports scientists on recent changes to the consensus statement for sports-related concussion. Specifically, the article provides new information that can be applied to tennis. While concussion in tennis is rare, head injuries in tennis do occur. It is important that in-lieu of medical staff available at train...
Article
Aim: To provide epidemiological data and related costs to the national health insurance scheme for traumatic brain injury (TBI) in New Zealand. Method: A retrospective analytical review utilising detailed descriptive minor and moderate-to-severe epidemiological TBI data obtained from the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) for 2012-2016. Inj...
Article
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Background: Cortisol is a steroid hormone that follows a distinct diurnal timeline, however while healthy ranges exist, it not been determined whether or why individuals differ on baseline cortisol levels. The aim of this study was to test the anecdotal evidence of different levels of responders by classifying these levels in resting cortisol, and...
Chapter
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This chapter will discuss the applications of the motor evoked potential (MEP) waveform across a range of diverse research areas. Following a brief outline of the measureable components of the MEP, the chapter will present the various areas of research that TMS has been used to understand the integrity of the central nervous system and the corticom...
Article
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Objectives: To provide epidemiological data and related costs for moderate-to-serious and serious injury claims for women’s rugby union in New Zealand. Methods: A retrospective analytical review utilising detailed descriptive epidemiological data obtained from the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) database for 2013-2017. Results: Over 2013 to...
Article
Although there is an increasing body of evidence in relationship to sports-related concussion, these injuries do occur outside of the sporting field. For example, in New Zealand, over a five-year period, there was an average of one ACC injury claim lodged every 88 min for a sport-related traumatic brain injury costing a total of $83 million NZ doll...
Article
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Cross-education describes the strength gain in the opposite, untrained limb following a unilateral strength training program. Since its discovery in 1894, several studies now confirm the existence of cross-education in contexts that involve voluntary dynamic contractions, eccentric contraction, electrical stimulation, whole-body vibration and, more...
Article
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Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a complex disorder in which various symptoms persist for many months after the injury that caused the concussion. Whilst PCS can be related to psychological factors ongoing physical symptoms, such as fatigue, can impact on an individual's activities of daily living. This study explored the neurophysiological and so...
Article
Full-text available
This study investigated corticomotor excitability and inhibition, somatosensory functioning, cognitive performance, and ongoing self-reported fatigue in retired elite Australian Football League (AFL) players who had sustained multiple concussions during their professional careers. These retired players have specifically expressed ongoing mental and...
Article
Full-text available
Recently, several studies have used Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to probe the corticospinal-motoneuronal responses to a single session of strength training; however, the findings are inconsistent. This systematic review and meta-analysis examined whether a single bout of strength training affects the excitability and inhibition of intrac...
Article
Full-text available
Stress is an adaptive response from the human body to meet any demand. Stress in the body is expressed through the secretion of the biomarker cortisol which can be quantified using non-invasive salivary testing (Ivkovic et al, 2015, Scientific Journal of the Faculty of Medicine in Nis, 32, 91 – 99). Participation in elite sports can lead to the li...