Matthew Heath, PhD


Room 4177 TH
519 661-2111 x80498
Google Scholar
Research Gate
ORCID:  0000-0001-9775-6055


  • PhD (Waterloo)
  • MSc (McMaster)

Graduate Program Supervision

  • Psychological Basis of Kinesiology MA | PhD
  • Integrative Biosciences MSc | PhD

Research In Profile

Professor Matthew Heath's work focuses on neuroplasticity in executive function following single and chronic bouts of exercise in healthy young and older adults as well as those at risk for cognitive decline. This work seeks to identify exercise protocols that provide optimal brain health benefits and the mechanisms supporting this change. Techniques used in my lab include behavioural and electroencephalographic measures of limb and oculomotor control, as well as cortical hemodynamic (i.e., TCD and NIRS) and metabolic responses to exercise.

In addition, professor Heath pursues research in the basic visual sciences examining how vision and cognition influence the planning and control of goal-directed upper-limb and eye movements. This basic work has been integrated into projects providing clinical tools for evaluating executive dysfunction and recovery in persons with a sport-related.

Featured Publications and Projects

Articles in Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • Binsted, G., Brownell, K., Voronstova, Z., Heath, M., & Saucier, D. (2007). Visuomotor system uses target features unavailable to conscious awareness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 104, 12669-12672.
  • Shirzad, M., Tari, B., Dalton, C., Van Riesen, J., Marsala, M.J., Heath, M. (2022). Passive exercise increases cerebral blood flow and supports a postexercise executive function benefit. Psychophysiology, 59, e14132.
  • Ayala, N., Heath, M. (2020). Executive dysfunction after a sport-related concussion in independent of task-related symptom burden. Journal of Neurotrauma. 37, 2558-2568.
  • Tari, B., Vanhie, J.J., Belfry, G., Shoemaker, J.K., Heath, M. (2020). Increased cerebral blood flow supports a single-bout postexercise benefit to executive function. Journal of Neurophysiology. 124, 930-940.
  • Dirk, K., Belfry, G., Heath M. (2020). Exercise and executive function during follicular and luteal menstrual cycle phases. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 521, 919-927.
  • Colino, F., Heath, M., Hassall, C., Krigolson, O. (2020). Electroencephalographic evidence for a reinforcement learning advantage during motor skill acquisition. Biological Psychology. 151, 107849.
  • Heath, M., Ayala, N., Hamidi, M., Tari, B. (2022). Distinct visual resolution supports aperture shaping in natural and pantomime-grasping. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 76, 22-28.

Visit Google Scholar for a comprehensive list of publications.

Current Grants and Research Projects

  • Heath, M. (2016-2022). The cognitive and sensory control of goal-directed movement. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada [NSERC]. $240,000.

Featured Graduate Student Projects

Any exercise anywhere any time boosts brain blood flow and executive function.

  • Ben, Tari (2022). PhD, Kinesiology.

Oculomotor task-switching performance improves and persists following a single bout of aerobic exercise.

  • Shukla, Diksha (2020). MSc, Kinesiology.

Visit Scholarship@Western for a list of completed student theses and dissertations in the repository.

Graduate Student Opportunities

A range of projects involving the themes of how exercise improves brain health and neuroplasticity may be available for potential graduate students. Please contact professor Health directly, at, for more information.

Additional Information

Academic Appointments and Research Affiliations

Media Highlights


  • Wilberg Distinguished Lecturer, Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology
  • Recognition of Teaching Excellence, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University)
  • University Students’ Council Teaching Award of Excellence Honor Roll, Western University
  • Faculty of Health Sciences Top 10% Teaching Excellence
  • Faculty Scholar, Western University
  • Teaching Award of Excellence, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University
  • Early Career Distinguished Scholar Award, North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity
  • Early Career Research Award, Down Syndrome Research Foundation
  • PETRO Canada Young Innovator

Professional Activities

  • Scientific Membership
    • Société Canadienne D'Apprentissage Psychomoteur et de Psychologie du Sport (SCAPPS)
    • Society for Neuroscience
    • Vision Sciences Society
  • Grant Review Membership
    • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada: Scholarships and Fellowships
    • Canadian Space Agency/ National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Life Sciences Panel
  • Editorial Membership
    • Experimental Brain Research
    • Frontiers in Movement Science and Sport Psychology
    • Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Down Syndrome Quarterly
    • Vision