The Annie Morrison Department of Exercise Sciences

Exercise Nutrition and Neurometabolism Laboratory

Within the Department of Exercise Sciences our Exercise Nutrition and Neurometabolism research offers numerous options for students in this exciting area of integrative physiology.


Why do our brain’s fatigue during prolonged exercise? How do the foods we eat or the medications we take influence human performance?

In the laboratory we investigate brain fatigue and examine interventions that can improve brain health and performance. We administer nutritional and pharmaceutical interventions during stress to study how, and why, certain substances modify human performance. We’re primarily interested in uncovering the brain’s role in controlling metabolism and to do this we manipulate the body’s energy reserves and oxygen supply to discover mechanisms involved in these processes.

Research is conducted by Dr Nicholas Gant with research students and fellows, working closely with colleagues from the Centre for Brain Research and collaborators worldwide.


Our team

Principal Investigator

Research Students

  • Clare Turner
  • Jonathan Rawstorn
  • Charlotte Connell
  • Jhordaine Charlton


  • Madeline Barbarich


  • Shelley Duncan (Victoria University, Melbourne)
  • Grace Vincent (Deakin University)
  • Briar Rudsits (Victoria University, Melbourne)
  • Claudia Kelly (Oxford University)
  • David Bryson
  • Jana Rautenberg
  • Rachael Gardiner

Project Scholars

  • Michael Sun (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, University of Otago)
  • Rachel Sullivan (Bachelor of Science in Sport & Exercise Science, University of Auckland)
  • Aalia Desai (Bachelor of Science in Sport & Exercise Science, University of Auckland)


Local collaborators


We are always looking for new PhD candidates to study in our laboratory and volunteers to participate in our research. If you would like additional information about projects and research studies please contact Dr Nick Gant.

Video clips

Nick Gant and Clare Turner provide an overview of their paper published in the journal 'Appetite'.


  • Our 3-year diet & exercise study: PREVIEW (see Ongoing Research Projects) has been funded $1.1 million by Health Research Council NZ.
  • Clare Turner’s new study Carbohydrate in the mouth enhances activation of brain circuitry involved in motor performance and sensory perception gets global media coverage this week, including an article in Science Magazine.
    See the study in Science Magazine.
    See the study in Appetite
  • Clare Turner wins the 2013 Auckland Nutrition Research Network prize for best 3 min research presentation. Her talk entitled The effect of dietary creatine monohydrate supplementation on brain function during lowered oxygen availability in mild traumatic brain injury described research that forms part of Clare's PhD.
  • The team author chapters in a new textbook aimed at neuroscience researchers and clinicians using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Nick Gant with Clare Turner and Joanne Lin provide two chapters describing the biochemistry underlying magnetic resonance spectra in a new text entitled Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy: Tools for Neuroscience Research and Emerging Clinical Applications.
    See the book
  • Charlotte Connell's research project poster entitled ‘Coffee: more than meets the eye’, scooped the pool at the Faculty of Science and the University wide Exposure Poster Competition.


Our funders

Research in our lab is supported by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, the Auckland Medical Research Foundation, the Maurice & Phyllis Paykel Trust, and several industry partnerships.

Ongoing research projects

(Updated September 2013)

  • Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation and neuropsychological function in mild traumatic brain injury (Clare Turner)
  • The influence of caffeine and fatigue on the human visual system (Charlotte Connell)
  • The Glycaemic index: cognition and corticomotor excitability (Madeline Barbarich)
  • Physical activity and perceptual learning (Charlotte Connell)
  • Acute hypoxia, vision and cognition (Jhordaine Charlton)
  • Oral creatine supplementation and cortical efficacy (Clare Turner)
  • Quantification of neural metabolites using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (Clare Turner and Joanne Lin)
  • Shuttle exercise protocols for estimating aerobic capacity in individuals with coronary heart disease. (Jonathan Rawstorn)
  • PICTURE - Passive Image Capture to Record Everyday Events (Luke Gemming)
  • Acute hypoxia and cortical efficacy (Clare Turner)
  • PREVIEW  - Prevention of diabetes through lifestyle intervention and population studies in Europe and around the world (Jhordaine Charlton)
  • Validation of a wireless physiological sensing platform for remote physical activity monitoring (Jonathan Rawstorn)

Supplementary material

  • Supplemental Material for Turner et al. (2015) JNeurosci "Creatine supplementation enhances corticomotor excitability and cognitive performance during oxygen deprivation."
Supplemental data
(758.3 kB, PDF)
Summary poster
(1.8 MB, PDF)
  • Supplementary Data for Turner et al. (2014) Appetite "Carbohydrate in the mouth enhances activation of brain circuitry involved in motor performance and sensory perception”
Supplemental Data
(519.2 kB, PDF)