Dr Dawson  J

Dr Dawson J Kidgell

Senior Lecturer, Human Motor Control, Discipline of Exercise Science

College of Science, Health and Engineering

School of Allied Health

Department of Rehabilitation, Nutrition and Sport

Health Sciences 3, Level 2, room 214, Melbourne (Bundoora)

Research centres

La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre


BA, GDipExSpSc, MAppSci, PhD.



Area of study

Exercise science

Brief profile

Dr Kidgell's research interests are in the area of neurophysiology of exercise and he specialises in the technique of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) which is a non-invasive method of measuring the functional properties (neuroplasticity) of the human brain, in particular the primary motor cortex. Through the use of this technique, Dr Kidgell has been quantifying the motor cortical responses to strength training. Dr Kidgell is also interested in the neuromodulatory effects of transcranial direct current stimulation prior to, during and following strength training to facilitate the motor cortical responses to training. Dr Kidgell uses sophisticated stimulation and electrophysiological recording and analysis techniques to address these issues, which include TMS, tDCS, spinal cord reflex testing, surface electromyography and single motor unit recordings. The overall goal of his research is to understand how the healthy nervous system functions to control movements following a variety of interventions, and how it may be rehabilitated following neuromuscular injury or disease.

Research interests

Neuroscience and neuropsychology

- Exercise Neurobiology

Teaching units

Human Motor Control (EXS2MCL), Skill Acquisition (EXS3SKA) and Exercise Science Project (EXS3ESP).

Recent publications


  1. Pearce, AJ and Kidgell, DJ. Neuroplasticity following skill and strength training. Nova Science Publishers. ISBN: 978-1-61728-762-6 (Softcover). (2011).

Book Chapters

  1. Pearce, AJ and Kidgell, DJ. Neuroplasticity following skill and strength training: Evidence from transcranial magnetic stimulation studies. In: Horizons in Neuroscience Research. Volume 3 Eds: Andres Costa and Eugenio Villalba. Nova Science Publishers. ISBN: 978-1-61728-027-6. (2011).
  2. Kidgell DJ, Pearce AJ. Motor control adaptations following skill and strength training. In: Fundamentals of Exercise and Sport Science 2e, pp 416-506. McGraw-Hill Publishing. ISBN 13: 9780-0702-8824-9. (2010).

Peer-reviewed Papers

  1. Mason, J, Frazer, A, Horvath, D, Pearce, A, Avela, J, Howatson, G, and Kidgell, D (2017). Adaptations in corticospinal excitability and inhibition are not spatially confined to the agonist muscle following strength training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, DOI: 10.1007/s00421-017-3624-Y​. (Impact Factor 2.8).
  2. Frazer, A, Williams, J, Spittle M, and Kidgell DJ (2017). Cross-education of muscular strength is facilitated by homeostatic plasticity​. European Journal of Applied Physiology, DOI: 10.1007/s00421-017-3538-8​. (Impact Factor 2.8).
  3. Kidgell, D, Frazer, A, and Pearce, A (2017). The effect of task complexity influencing bilateral transfer. International Journal of Exercise Science.
  4. Coombs, T, Frazer, A, Horvath, D, Pearce, AJ, Howatson, G, and Kidgell, DJ (2016).Cross-education of wrist extensor strength is not influenced by non-dominant training in right-handers. European Journal of Applied Physiology, DOI:10.1007/s00421-016-3436-5. (Impact Factor 2.4).
  5. Hendy, AM, Tillman, A, Rantalainen, T, Muthalib, M, Johnson, L, Kidgell, DJ, Wundersitz, D, Entocott, P, and Teo, WP (2016). Concurrent transcranial direct current stimulation and progressive resistance training in Parkinson's disease: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials (TRLS-D-16-00213). (Impact Factor 2.2).
  6. Frazer, AK, Williams, J, Spittles, M, Rantalainen, T, and Kidgell, DJ (2016). Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation of the motor cortex increases cortical voluntary activation and neural plasticity. Muscle & Nerve, DOI:10.1002/mus.25143. (Impact factor 2.8).
  7. Goodwill, AM, Teo, WP, Morgan, P, Daly, RM, and Kidgell, DJ (2016). Dual-tDCS and upper limb rehabilitation improves retention of motor function in chronic stroke: A pilot study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, DOI:10.389/FNHUM.2016.00258. (Impact Factor 3.6).
  8. Kidgell, DJ, Mason, J, Frazer, AK, Pearce, AJ (2016). I-wave periodicity transcranial magnetic stimulation (iTMS) on corticospinal excitability. A systematic review of the literature. Neuroscience, 322 (2016):262-272. (Impact factor 3.5).
  9. Rio, E, Kidgell D, Purdam C, Gaida J, Moseley GL, Cook J (2016). Isometric contractions are more analgesic than isotonic contractions for patellar tendon pain: an in-season randomised clinical trial . Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, In Press. (Impact Factor 2.3).
  10. Bradner, C, Warmington, S, Kidgell, DJ (2015). Corticomotor excitability is increased following an acute bout of blood flow restriction resistance exercise. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. doi:160560 (Impact factor 3.6).
  11. Leung, M, Rantalainen, T, Teo, W. P, Kidgell, DJ (2015). Motor cortex excitability is not differentially modulated following skill and strength training. Neuroscience, 305:99-108.(Impact factor 3.5).
  12. Kidgell DJ, Frazer AK, Rantalainen T, Ruotsalainen I, Ahtiainen J, Avela J, Howatson G (2015). Increased cross-education of muscle strength and reduced corticospinal inhibition following eccentric strength training. Neuroscience, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.05.057 (Impact factor 3.5).
  13. Hendy, Ashlee M and Kidgell, Dawson J (2015). Anodal tDCS Prolongs the Cross-education of Strength and Corticomotor Plasticity. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, doi: doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000600. (Impact factor, 4.5).
  14. Rio E, Kidgell D, Purdam C, Gaida J, Moseley GL, Pearce AJ, Cook J (2015). Isometric exercise induces analgesia and reduces inhibition in patellar tendinopathy. British Journal of Sports Medicine, doi: 2014-094386. (impact factor, 6.7).
  15. Goodwill, AM, Daly, RM and Kidgell, Dawson J (2015). The effect of anodal tDCS on cross-limb transfer in older adults. Clinical Neurophysiolgy, 2015 Feb 4. pii: S1388-2457(15)00024-3. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2015.01.006. (Impact factor, 3.7).
  16. Daly RM, Duckham RL, Tait JL, Rantalainen T, Nowson CA, Taaffe DR, Sanders K, Hill KD, Kidgell DJ, Busija L (2015). Effectiveness of dual-task functional power training for preventing falls in older people: study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial. Trials. 2015; 16: 120. (Impact factor, 2.2)
  17. RM Daly, J Gianoudis, M Prosser,D Kidgell, KA Ellis (2015). The effects of a protein enriched diet with lean red meat combined with a multi-modal exercise program on muscle and cognitive health and function in older adults: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. Trials 2015, 16:339 . (Impact factor, 2.2)
  18. Brendan Henderson, Jill Cook, Dawson J. Kidgell, Paul B. Gastin (2015). Game and Training Load Differences in Elite Junior Australian Football. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 14: 494 – 500 (Impact factor 3.1).
  19. Alex Tillman, Makii Muthalib, Ashlee M. Hendy, Liam G. Johnson, Timo Rantalainen, Dawson J. Kidgell, Peter G (2015) . Enticott and Wei-Peng Teo. Lower limb progressive resistance training improves leg strength but not gait speed or balance in Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Aging Neuroscience, March 2015, doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2015.00040 (Impact factor 2.8).
  20. Pirotta, S., Kidgell, D.J and Daly, R.M (2015). Effects of vitamin D supplementation on neuroplasticity in older adults: a double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomised trial. Osteoporosis International, 26(1):131- 140, (Impact factor 4.2).
  21. Teo, W.P., Muthalib, M., Kidgell, D., Frazer, A., Hendy, A., Goodwill, A.M. & Perrey, S. (2015) Ipsilateral M1 transcranial direct current stimulation increases excitability of the contralateral M1 during an active motor task: Implications for stroke rehabilitation. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 58.
  22. Hendy, Ashlee M and Kidgell, Dawson J (2014). Anodal-tDCS applied during unilateral strength training increases strength and corticospinal excitability in the untrained homologous muscle. Experimental Brain Research, DOI: 10.1007/s00221-014-4016-8, (Impact factor 2.3).
  23. Ruotsalainen, Ilona, Ahtiainen, Juha, Kidgell, Dawson, Avela, Janne (2014). Changes in corticospinal excitability during an acute bout of resistance exercise in the elbow flexors. European Journal of Applied Physiology, DOI: 10.1007/s00421-014-2884-z, (Impact factor 2.4.).
  24. E Rio, D Kidgell,GL Moseley, J Cook (2014). Patellar Tendinopathy: Looking Outside The Tendon.British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48:A57 (impact factor, 6.7). 
  25. E Rio, D Kidgell,J Cook (2014). Exercise Reduces Pain Immediately and Affects Cortical Inhibition in Patellar Tendinopathy.British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48:A57-A58 (impact factor, 6.7).  
  26. Brandner, C, Kidgell, D, and Warmington, S (2014). Unilateral bicep curl hemodynamics: Low-pressure continuous vs high-pressure intermittent blood flow restriction. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, DOI: 10.1111/sms.12297 (Impact factor 3.1).
  27. Scase, E, Kidgell, DJ, Purdam, C, Moseley, L, Jaberzadeh, S, Pearce, AJ, Cook, J. (2013). Cortical changes associated with patellar tendinopathy. Sports Medicine, January 2014, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 9-23 (Impact Factor 5.1).
  28. Kidgell, Dawson J, Daly, Robin M, Young, Kayleigh, Lum, Jarrod, Tooley, Gregory, Jaberzadeh, Shapour, Zoghi, Maryam, Pearce, Alan J (2013). Different current Intensities of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation do not differentially modulate motor cortex plasticity. Neural Plasticity, 10.1155/2013/603502, (Impact factor 3.5).
  29. Kidgell, Dawson J, Frazer, Ashlyn K, Goodwill, Alicia M, Daly, Robin M (2013). Induction of cortical plasticity and improved motor performance following unilateral and bilateral transcranial direct current stimulation of the primary motor cortex. Neuroscience 14:64, (Impact Factor 2.3).
  30. Goodwill, Alicia M, Reynolds, John, Daly, Robin M, Kidgell, Dawson J (2013). Formation of cortical plasticity in older adults following tDCS and motor training. Aging Neuroscience, 5: 10.3389/fnagi.2013.00087, (Impact factor 5.2).
  31. Hendy, Ashlee M and Kidgell, Dawson J (2013). Anodal tDCS applied during strength training enhances motor cortical plasticity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 5(9):1721-9, (Impact factor 4.5).
  32. Timo Rantalainen, Michael Leung, Chris Brandner, Ashleigh Weier, Michael Spittle, Dawson J Kidgell. Short-Interval Intracortical Inhibition Is Not Affected by Varying Task Complexity of an Isometric Task in Biceps Brachii Muscle. (2013). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7: (DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00068) (Impact Factor 3.6).
  33. Kidgell, DJ, Daly, RM, Lum, J, Tooley, Jaberzadeh, S, Zoghi & Pearce, AJ. (2013). Different current intensities of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation does not differentially modulate motor cortex plasticity. Neural Plasticity, doi.org/10.1155/2013/603502 (Impact Factor, 3.5).
  34. Pearce, AJ, Clark, RA & Kidgell, DJ. (2013). A comparison of two methods in acquiring stimulus-response curves with transcranial magnetic stimulation. Brain Stimulation, 6:306-309. (Impact Factor, 4.5).
  35. Leung, M, Spittle, M & Kidgell, DJ. (2012). Corticospinal excitability following short-term motor imagery training of a strength task. Journal of Imagery Research in Sport and Physical Activity, 8(1):35-44.
  36. Jaberzadeh, S, Bastani, A & Kidgell, DJ. (2012). Does the longer application of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation increase corticomotor excitability further? A pilot study. Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, 3(4):28-35.
  37. Weier, AT, Pearce, AJ & Kidgell, DJ. (2012). Strength training reduces intracortical inhibition. Acta Physiologica, 206(2): 109-119. (Impact Factor, 4.4).
  38. Pearce, AJ, Hendy, AM, Bowen, W & Kidgell, DJ. (2012). Corticospinal adaptations and strength maintenance in the immobilised arm following 3-wks unilateral strength training. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport (DOI: 0.1111/j.1600 0838.2012.01453. (Impact Factor, 3.1).
  39. Goodwill, AM, Pearce, AJ, Kidgell, DJ. (2012) Corticomotor plasticity following cross-education strength training. Muscle and Nerve, 46(3):384-393. (Impact Factor, 2.8).
  40. Hendy, A, Spittle, M, Kidgell, DJ. (2012). Cross education and immobilisation: Mechanisms and implications for injury rehabilitation. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 15(2):94-101. (Impact Factor, 3.7).
  41. Latella, C, Kidgell, DJ, Pearce, AJ. (2012). Reduction in corticospinal inhibition in the trained and untrained limb following unilateral leg strength training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 112:3097-3107. (Impact Factor, 2.4).
  42. Goodwill, AM & Kidgell, DJ. (2012). The effects of whole-body vibration on the cross-transfer of strength, Neuroscience (doi: 10.1100/TSWJ/504837). (Impact Factor, 1.7).
  43. Weier, AT & Kidgell, DJ. (2012). Strength training with superimposed whole-body vibration does not preferentially modulate cortical plasticity. Physiology Domains (doi:10.1100/2012/876328). (Impact Factor, 1.7).
  44. Castricum, TJ, Pearce, AJ, Kidgell, DJ. (2012). High Volume versus Low Volume Balance Training on Postural Sway in Adults with Previous Ankle Inversion Injury. International Journal of Motor Learning and Sports Performance, 2(2):29-36.
  45. Kidgell, DJ, Stokes, MA and Pearce AJ. (2011). Strength training of one limb increases corticomotor excitability projecting to the contralateral homologous limb. Motor Control, 15(2):247-66. (Impact Factor, 1.8).
  46. Kidgell, DJ and Pearce, AJ. (2011).What has transcranial magnetic stimulation taught us about neural adaptations to strength training? A brief review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(11): 3208–3217. (Impact Factor, 1.9)

Older publications

  1. Kidgell, DJ and Pearce, AJ. (2011). Low-frequency vibration of the biceps brachii does not alter the functional properties of the corticospinal pathway. Journal of Motor Learning and Sports Performance, 1(1):9-16.
  2. Pearce, AJ, Latella, C, Kidgell, DJ. (2011). Secondary warm-up following stretching on vertical jumping, change of direction and straight line speed. European Journal of Sport Sciences, (1): 1-10. (Impact Factor, 1.8).
  3. Kidgell, DJ and Pearce, AJ. (2010). Corticospinal properties following short-term strength training of an intrinsic hand muscle, Human Movement Science, 29 (5):631-641. (Impact Factor, 1.6
  4. Pearce, AJ and Kidgell, DJ. Comparison of corticomotor excitability during visuomotor dynamic and static tasks, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 13(1):167-171, 2010. (Impact Factor, 3.7).
  5. Pearce, AJ, Kidgell, DJ, Grikepelis, LA and Carlson, JS. (2009). Wearing a sports compression garment on the performance of visuomotor tracking following eccentric exercise: a pilot study, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 12(4):500-502. (Impact Factor, 3.1).
  6. Pearce, AJ and Kidgell, DJ. (2009). Corticomotor excitability during precision motor tasks, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 12(2): 280-283. (Impact Factor, 3.7).
  7. Pearce, AJ, Kidgell, DJ, J and Carlson, JS. (2009). Effects of secondary warm up following stretching, European Journal of Applied Physiology, 105(2):175-183. (Impact Factor, 2.4).
  8. Netto, K, Carstairs, G, Kidgell, DJ and Aisbett, B. (2010) Neck strength recovery after a single bout of specific strengthening exercise, Physical Therapy in Sport, 11(3):75-80, 2010. (Impact Factor, 1.6).
  9. Kidgell, DJ, Horvath, Jackson, BM and Seymour, PJ. (2007). Effect of six weeks of dura disc and minitrampoline balance training on postural sway in athletes with functional ankle instability. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(2):466-469. (Impact Factor, 1.9).
  10. Kidgell, DJ, Sale, MV and Semmler, JG. (2006). Motor unit synchronization measured by cross-correlation is not influenced by short-term strength training of a hand muscle. Experimental Brain Research, 175(4):745-53. (Impact Factor, 2.1).
  11. Hyrsomallis, C, Kidgell, DK. (2001). Effect of heavy-load bench press on upper body power indicators. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, (Impact Factor, 1.9).

Research projects

Interaction of the BDNF Polymorphism on the induction of experimentally-induced and use-dependent plasticity.

A number of mechanisms are thought to underpin the development of muscular strength following a training intervention. As well as changes at the muscle level, it is thought the central nervous system also plays an integral role in the early phases of strength development. In addition to traditional strength training, noninvasive brain stimulation has also been shown to increase muscle strength. A common non-invasive brain stimulation technique is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) which involves painlessly applying direct current over the scalp. However, individual responses to strength training and tDCS have been shown to be highly variable suggesting that other factors are involved. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to explore potential factors that may contribute towards this variability and to inform future training interventions with the aim of increasing muscle strength following musculoskeletal injury. 

Transcranial direct current stimulation and unilateral strength training: implications for rehabilitation.

Resistance training studies have demonstrated that strengthening of one limb produces an increased strength of the contralateral homologous muscle group. This form of resistance training is known as ‘cross education’. Therefore, the purpose of the current project is to quantify the neurophysiological mechanisms that underpin strength attenuation following short-term immobilization. The objective is to determine if strength training the free limb during a 3 week period of unilateral immobilization attenuates strength loss in the immobilized untrained limb. This project has implications and application for exercise science, sport injury management and exercise rehabilitation. 

Is cortico-cortical inhibition reduced following short-term strength training?

It has been documented that increases in strength during the early phases of a strength training program (first 2–4 weeks) occur in the absence of measurable muscle hypertrophy. These early strength gains have therefore been attributed to neural adaptations. Although there is little evidence in humans clearly defining the site of such neural changes, adaptations at the motor cortex have been suggested to play a role. However, whether similar cortical adaptations are apparent following strength training remains unclear. Overall, relatively few studies have examined adaptations in cortical excitability and inhibition with strength training and there is not a clear consensus on the site of adaptation. Some investigations show a training-related increase in cortical excitability, but very few have investigated changes in cortico-cortical inhibition. An understanding of the sites of neural adaptation in response to strength training can lead to refinement of strength training and rehabilitation techniques. Therefore, the aim of this study is to examine potential cortico-cortical circuits within the human primary motor cortex following a short-term strength training paradigm.

Interventional repetitive I-wave transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): the dimension of stimulation frequency and its effects on motor function.

A range of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) techniques are now available to modulate human motor cortex excitability and plasticity. One presumably critical aspect of these interventions is their duration of application and how it effects motor function. Interventional repetitive I-wave transcranial magnetic stimulation (iTMS) is a specialised patterned form of repetitive TMS that has shown to increase motor cortex excitability. Studies have generally used the same iTMS protocol of using a suprathreshold (0.5 – 1.0 mV) paired stimuli, delivered at an interstimulus interval (ISI) of 1.5 ms, and a frequency of 0.2 Hz. Although the timing of the ISI has been previously questioned and investigated, no study to date has investigated the pulse frequency, with all studies utilising 0.2 Hz. Interestingly in the original study, Thickbroom et al (2006) do not provide a justification for a 0.2 Hz frequency and how this effects changes in motor function. Therefore, the aim of this study is to assess the effect of comparing three different frequency rates (0.1 Hz, 0.2 Hz and 0.3 Hz) on motor cortex excitability compared to the standard iTMS frequency of 0.2 Hz.  A secondary aim is to investigate how motor cortex excitability following iTMS can improve motor function.

Cortical and spinal adaptations associated with cross-transfer of strength versus skill training: Implications for neuroplasticity and rehabilitation. 

Cross-education or bilateral transfer is the improvement in performance that occurs in an untrained limb when the opposite (unilateral) limb is trained. The transfer effects of training have been studied in both skill acquisition (bilateral transfer) and in strength training (cross education); however, cross education and bilateral transfer have been studied as separate entities. The purpose of the proposed research project is to investigate the mechanism of transfer, based on the hypothesis that the cross-transfer of strength and the cross-transfer of skills are controlled by similar mechanisms that are confined to the motor cortex. This novel research using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has clinical implications in exercise rehabilitation for conditions that prevent exercising one limb. For example, cross-education of strength and skills has important clinical implications in pre, peri and post-operative care. It also has important theoretical implications for motor control in understanding the mechanisms of transfer.

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