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Applied Neuromuscular Physiology (ANP) Lab

Director: Katrina S. Maluf, PT, Ph.D.

The dual mission of the ANP Lab is to identify mechanisms underlying psychomotor responses to stress and pain, and to apply this knowledge to the prevention and treatment of chronic pain disorders.

We use a variety of neurophysiologic techniques to investigate how the brain and spinal cord respond  to stress and pain in both healthy and clinical populations.  Common experimental techniques include surface and intra-muscular electromyography (EMG), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), peripheral nerve stimulation, and assessment of mechanical pain sensitivity.  We also conduct clinical studies to investigate risk factors and novel treatment strategies for chronic pain disorders such as neck pain, cervical dystonia, and fibromyalgia. 

EMG screening set up 

Validation of a Clinical Screening Tool for Elevated Muscle Activity in Occupational Myalgia

The goal of this project is to develop and test a clinical screening tool to determine which individuals are at greatest risk for neck pain caused by prolonged or excessive muscle activity. Once these individuals can be accurately identified, future clinical trials will assess targeted interventions for the prevention and treatment of neck pain in this unique patient population.

TMS set up 

Effects of Mental Concentration on the Responsiveness of Intra-cortical and Corticospinal Pathways

Mental concentration can increase trapezius muscle activity in some, but not all, individuals. This project uses transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate individual differences in the effects of mental concentration on the responsiveness of intra-cortical and corticospinal pathways in subjects with and without chronic neck pain and cervical dystonia.

Neck Pain 

Nociceptive Flexion Reflexes in Fibromyalgia

Central mechanisms contributing to widespread pain in patients with fibromyalgia are poorly understood. This study will determine if there is a difference in the threshold of painful stimuli needed to evoke the withdrawal reflex between women with and without fibromyalgia.

Neck Pain 

Age and Sex Differences in Neuromuscular Function in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain

This project is examining associations between circulating sex hormone levels and muscle activity among young and old women and men to determine whether low-estrogen conditions mediate high levels of muscle activity in patients with chronic neck pain.

Pain Sensitivity testing set up 

Changes in Pain Sensivity across the Menstrual Cycle in Women with Chronic Neck Pain

Evidence suggests that fluctuations in ovarian hormones during the menstrual cycle may affect pain sensitivity. The purpose of this study is to determine if regional pain sensitivity and subjective pain report are modulated with changes in estradiol and progesterone across the menstrual cycle in women with chronic neck pain.

Pain Sensitivity testing set up 

Role of Pain in the Association between Physical Activity and Function in Fibromyalgia

It is well established that physical activity is associated with improved daily function in patients with fibromyalgia. This study will examine whether reductions in pain with a more physically active lifestyle mediate this association.


Lab Portrait 10_2011.jpg

Front Row: Betsy Kyle, Jackie Balter, Ryan Marker

Middle Row: Lisa Walde, Bahar Shahidi, Cynthia Johnson

Back Row: Katrina Maluf, Jennifer Molner, and Danika Friedley

Not pictured: Rebecca Stark



PhD Students

Clinical Research Assistants

DPT Student Research Assistants

  • Ashley Haight


Check out opportunities to Join our research team


National Institutes of Health (NIAMS) R01 Research Grant (R01-AR056704)
Trapezius Muscle Activity in Occupational Myalgia (2010-2014)
Maluf, PI


National Institutes of Health (NCRR) K12 Institutional Training Grant (TL1-RR025778)
Mechanisms and Treatment of Elevated Muscle Activity (2008-2011)
Sokol, PI; Maluf, CCTSI Fellow

Center for Women's Health Research Faculty Career Development Award
Effects of Sex and Age on Muscle Activity in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain (2009-2010)
Maluf, Faculty Fellow

National Institutes of Health Clinical Loan Repayment Grant
Clinical Investigations of Neuromuscular Activation (2004-2010)
Maluf, PI

National Institutes of Health (NIAMS) R21 Exploratory Grant (R21-AR054181)
Effects of Mental Concentration on Intrinsic Activation of Human Motor Neurons (2007-2010)
Maluf, PI

International Association for the Study of Pain John J. Bonica Postdoctoral Trainee Fellowship
Exercise-induced Hypoalgesia in Patients with Chronic Pain (2009-2010)
Umeda, PI; Maluf, Postdoctoral Mentor


Stephenson JL, Christou EA and Maluf KS. Discharge rate modulation of trapezius motor units differs for voluntary contractions and instructed muscle rest. Experimental Brain Research, 208: 203-215, 2011.

Stephenson JL and Maluf KS. Discharge behaviors of trapezius motor units during exposure to low and high levels of acute psychosocial stress. Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, 27(1):52-61, 2010.



en LR, Maluf KS, Sahrmann SA. Further examination of modifying patient-preferred movement and alignment strategies in patients with low back pain during symptomatic tests. Manual Therapy 14:52-60, 2009.



luf KS, Barry BK, Riley ZA, Enoka RM. Reflex responsiveness of a human hand muscle when controlling isometric force and joint position. Clinical Neurophysiology 118(9):2063-2071, 2007.


aluf KS and Enoka RM. Task failure during fatiguing contractions performed by humans. Journal of Applied Physiology 99:389-396, 2005.

More Publications for Dr. Maluf


Bahar Shahidi 8th AIMM.jpg  Ryan Marker 8th AIMM.jpg 

Dr. Katrina Maluf and Rehabilitation Science Ph.D. students Ryan Marker and Bahar Shahidi attended the XIXth Congress of the International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology (ISEK) in Brisbane, followed by the 8th Annual International Motoneuron Meeting in Sydney, Australia. Dr. Maluf gave an invited lecture on age differences in the respiratory behavior of accessory muscles in the neck. Dr. Marker received a Delsys Travel Award to present an oral platform on the development of a novel method for removing cardiac artifact from trunk muscle electromyography. He also presented a poster on changes in the corticospinal excitability of neck muscles in response to acute psychosocial stress. Dr. Shahidi presented two posters on the relationship between changes in neck posture and muscle activity during stressful work tasks, and the distribution of respiratory inputs to the trapezius motor neuron pool.


PhD student, Bahar Shahidi presented a poster titled "Reliability and Discriminant Validity of Cervicothoracic Impairment Measures in Individuals with and without Chronic Neck Pain" at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting in Chicago. Bahar's poster was nominated for a Best Poster Award by the Orthopedics section.


Foundation for PT Logo.png 

Rehabilitation Science PhD students Bahar Shahidi and Andrew Kittelson were selected as 2012 Promotion of Doctoral Studies I Scholarship recipients from the Foundation for Physical Therapy.

PhD students, Bahar Shahidi and Ryan Marker, were selected as 2011 Kendall Scholarship recipients from the Foundation for Physical Therapy. This award is wonderful recognition from the PT community for the first cohort of graduate students in the Rehabilitation Science PhD Program at UC Denver.


PhD student, Ryan Marker (Faculty Mentor, Katrina Maluf):

Selected for the Delsys Foundation Travel Grant to attend the XIX Congress of the International Society of Electrophysiology and Kinesiology in Brisbane, Australia.

Recipient of the $275 Reserach Award for Outstanding Poster from the University of Colorado College of Nursing.



Lab Address:

Anschutz Medical Campus
Bldg 500, Rm EG305
13001 E. 17th Place
Aurora, CO 80045    

Phone: 303-724-0066
Fax: 303-724-0863



Map and Directions to find the ANP Lab on the Anschutz Medical Campus

Employment and training opportunities