Dr. Alejandra Barrera-Curiel
Alejandra Barrera-Curiel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology. As a professor, her goal is to guide students to think and act as ethical leaders of the community. Her classes involve mini-experiments and hands-on activities so students can relate research, practice, and curriculum. Regarding research, her long-term goal is to understand how motor control changes across the lifespan. As we age, there seems to be a progressive shift in the reliance on spinal to supraspinal pathways to control muscles, where older adults exhibit a heightened antagonist coactivation.
However, these changes are not well-understood. Therefore, her first goal is to identify the central and peripheral determinants of the age-related increases in antagonist coactivation. This knowledge would lead to a follow-up study. Currently the ACSM guidelines regarding exercise prescription for older adults are very broad. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that balance training induces cortical and spinal plasticity. Therefore, the knowledge from the first project would help develop specific exercise training interventions to improve balance, prevent falls, and enhance quality of life of our senior citizens.
Alejandra, came to the U.S. to study her masters and decided to stayed for her Ph.D. where she learned a wealth of laboratory techniques, such as, muscle twitch properties analysis, through electrical stimulation and electromyographic recordings; cortical excitation, inhibition, and mapping through transcranial magnetic stimulation; and reflexes through electrical and mechanical stimulation. She finds working with students very enriching and is looking for hardworking students that want to learn more about the neuromuscular changes associated with aging.