Tony Carlsen
Tony Carlsen
Full Professor

2010 - Post-doctoral fellow, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
2008 - Ph.D., Motor Control, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
2003 - M.A, Motor Control, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
1998 - B.H.K., Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

LEE 518N
613-562-5800 ext. 7081


Anthony Carlsen is a full professor and the director and lead investigator of the NeuroMotor Behaviour Lab at the University of Ottawa. After completing his PhD in motor control at UBC in 2008, he worked for two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University in Chicago. He has been a professor in the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa since 2010 and his main research interests include determining the brain structures and processes involved in preparation for movement in humans, and how modulating this activity can lead to improvements in people’s lives.

Professor Carlsen is accepting new students for thesis supervision.

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Research interests

My main areas of interest are motor control, neurophysiology and neuromodulation. My lab also performs experiments that overlap with other areas such as motor learning and adaptation, sensorimotor integration and rehabilitation.

For example, we investigate:

  • Behavioural outcomes of processes related to preparation and initiation of actions
  • Neural contributions to motor preparatory processes
  • Brain stimulation techniques such as TMS and tDCS to modulate motor-related processes in healthy and motor-disordered individuals

Ongoing research

To date, my research has focused primarily on how one prepares quick actions that are completed in the absence of feedback. In the behavioural stream of this research, I have pioneered an emergent paradigm in the field of neuromuscular control in order to investigate response pre-programming that involves the use of an acoustic startling stimulus to involuntarily trigger prepared movements before they are initiated through voluntary response channels. This research has provided insight into when and under what circumstances we plan movements in advance. Secondly, in order to probe the brain activity and involved brain structures underlying these movements, my work employs neurophysiological methods and tools such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and EMG analyses. I also work with researchers in the use of EEG and fMRI. Finally, some of my work applies these techniques and findings to patients with Parkinson’s disease, in order to better understand how movement preparation is disrupted in disease states and to develop new interventions.


* indicates current / past trainees.

  • Maslovat D, Sadler CM*, Smith V*, Bui A*, Carlsen AN (in press) Response triggering by an acoustic stimulus increases with stimulus intensity and is best predicted by startle reflex activation. Scientific Reports 11, 23612
  • Rothwell JMA, Hallett M, Antal A, Burke D, Carlsen AN, Jahanshahi M, Sternad D, Valls-Solé J, Ziemann U (2021) Central nervous system physiology (Second of special series on the use of clinical neurophysiology for the study of movement disorders). Clin Neurophysiol 132: 3043-3083
  • Sadler CM*, Kami AT*, Nantel J, Carlsen AN (2021) Transcranial direct current stimulation of supplementary motor area improves upper limb kinematics in Parkinson’s disease. Clin Neurophysiol 132: 2907-2915. Also selected for additional inclusion in special issue on Transcranial Brain Stimulation:
  • Maslovat D, Teku F*, Smith V*, Drummond NM*, Carlsen AN (2020) Bimanual but not unimanual finger movements are triggered by a startling acoustic stimulus: evidence for increased reticulospinal drive for bimanual responses. J Neurophysiol 124: 1832-1838
  • Carlsen AN, Maslovat D, Kaga K. (2020) An unperceived acoustic stimulus decreases reaction time in a patient with cortical deafness. Scientific Reports 10: 5825.
  • St. Germain L*, Smith V*, Maslovat D, Carlsen AN (2020) Increased stimulus intensity results in an earlier and faster rise in corticospinal excitability. Brain Res 1727: 146559
  • Smith V*, Maslovat D, Carlsen AN (2020) StartReact effects are dependent upon engagement of startle reflex circuits: Evidence for a subcortically mediated initiation pathway. J Neurophysiol 122:2541-2547.
  • Smith V*, Maslovat D, Drummond NM*, Hajj J*, Leguerrier A*, Carlsen AN (2019) High intensity transcranial magnetic stimulation reveals differential cortical contributions to prepared responses. J Neurophysiol 121:1809-1821.
  • Carlsen AN, and Maslovat D (2019) Startle and the StartReact effect: Physiological mechanisms J Clin Neuroplysiol, 36:452-459.
  • Hajj J*, Maslovat D, Cressman EK, St. Germain L*, Carlsen AN, (2019) Visual processing is diminished during movement execution. PLoS One, 14(3): e0213790.
  • Smith V*, Maslovat D, Drummond NM*, Carlsen AN (2019) A timeline of motor preparatory state prior to response initiation: Evidence from startle. Neurosci 397:80-93.
  • Maslovat D, Hajj J*, Carlsen AN (2018) Coactivation of response initiation processes with redundant signals. Neurosci Lett 675:7-11.
  • Drummond NM*, Cressman EK, Carlsen AN (2018) Increased response preparation overshadows neurophysiological evidence of proactive selective inhibition. Psychology & Neurosci 11:1-17.
  • Smith V*, Carlsen AN (2018) Subthreshold transcranial magnetic stimulation applied after the go-signal facilitates reaction time under control but not startle conditions. Eur J Neurosci, 47:333-345.