EXERSCI 305 : Movement Neuroscience


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Examines brain and spinal cord organisation and function related to movement, and the neurological mechanisms involved in the planning, execution and control of movement in health and disease. Introduces the concept of neural plasticity as it relates to motor skill learning and recovery after injury in both healthy and neurologically impaired populations. An understanding of human anatomy at the level covered in EXERSCI 103 will also be assumed.

Course Overview

This course explores the neurological mechanisms involved in the planning, execution and control of movement in health and disease. It covers brain and spinal cord organisation and function related to movement, and the neurological mechanisms involved in the planning, execution and control of movement in health and disease. The course introduces the concept of neural plasticity as it relates to motor skill learning and recovery after injury in both healthy and neurologically impaired populations.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: EXERSCI 101 or SPORTSCI 101 and 15 points from EXERSCI 201, MEDSCI 206, PSYCH 202, SPORTSCI 201 Restriction: SPORTSCI 305

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe, analyse and consider the degrees of freedom problem as it pertains to the control of movement. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6)
  2. Identify and describe the neural elements of the motor control system (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Identify, describe and analyse the origin, termination and role of medial versus lateral descending neural pathways. (Capability 1, 2 and 5)
  4. Describe and apply formal laws that constrain movement speed and accuracy (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  5. Demonstrate and apply experimental methodologies used to understand the neural control of movement (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  6. Describe and explain the basic elements necessary for sensorimotor integration to occur (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  7. Critically analyse and compare experimental evidence for movement direction versus movement endpoint encoding in the cerebral cortex. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  8. Describe and compare motor program versus dynamical system theory of motor control. (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 5)
  9. Describe and compare the three functional pathways of the basal ganglia that contribute to movement control and its impairment in Parkinson's disease (Capability 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6)
  10. Evaluate and reflect on endogenous processes that contribute to plasticity and recovery from motor impairment as a result of stroke and the limitations of current stroke rehabilitation practice in this context (Capability 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 25% Group & Individual Coursework
Quizzes 10% Individual Coursework
Term Test 25% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Term Test
Final Exam

Key Topics

The Course is organised around 6 Themes.
1. Degrees of freedom
2. Neural elements of the motor system
3. Sensory contributions to movement control
4. Neurological conditions and movement rehabilitation
5. Theories of movement control
6. Motor learning and re-learning

Within each theme, there are a number of concepts. Each weekly seminar will cover between four - six concepts. Each concept is graded by level of difficulty which is indicated in the Recorded Summary, Study Notes and Handouts available on CANVAS.

Learning Resources

All reading material is available through links on CANVAS / via the University Library.

Special Requirements

The midterm test will be held in the evening on a day that may not coincide with the seminar.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 24 hours of online lectures, 12 hours of in-class seminars, 48 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 36 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page: https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

You will be offered an intuitive and flexible platform to undertake SET at a time and place that suits you. Key improvements have been made to EXERSCI 305 this year as a result of feedback.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html).


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 11/01/2020 03:00 p.m.