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Physical activity and cognition/brain interactions.


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Student Projects Available

Please email to discuss potential projects. Current interests working towards include:

  • Interactions between cognition and physical activity for brain health including BDNF responses to different exercise parameters
  • The effect of physical exertion on decision making and neural correlates (e.g., EEG)
  • Neurophysiological correlates with fatigue (in sporting, occupational & clinical settings)
  • Mental fatigue in different settings.
  • Training effects on cognition, brain function (e.g., cerebral blood flow, EEG measures) and exercise performance


Ben Rattray is an Associate Professor at the University of Canberra (UC) working with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UC-RISE). He teaches across several Exercise Physiology related units at both undergraduate and postgraduate level and contributed to the Australian and New Zealand version of the Power and Howley Exercise Physiology textbook in 2014. Ben earned his doctoral degree at the University of Sydney in 2009, focussing on mitochondrial and calcium interactions in skeletal muscle. Since starting at UC in 2009, Ben has shifted his focus towards understanding interactions between human movement and the brain, seeking to optimise health and performance. Ben’s research seeks to understand how exercise can impact cognition and how the brain contributes to fatigue in both acute and chronic settings. His work utilises approaches including perceptual and performance outcomes alongside cerebrovascular physiology, electroencephalography and structural MRI. This work has been applied in a range of contexts including military, occupational, health and high-performance sport settings. In 2016, Ben was awarded UC’s Early Career Research (Science, Health and Technology) prize and has a growing reputation as a leader in the area with collaborations worldwide. Ben now heads the Active Brain Research (Twitter) theme within UCRISE. But, to be honest, he would rather be orienteering, running, mountain biking, adventure racing, playing basketball, kayaking or skiing (all badly), and be spending time with his family.

Current projects include:

  • Mental fatigue in occupational, sporting and clinical settings. Collaborations including VUB, Belgium.
  • Training for improved cognitive and physical performance.
  • Exercise factors that influence acute cognitive performance.
  • Improving exercise prescription for cognitive wellbeing and healthy ageing – physical activity, cognitive activity and assessments. BDNF response. Ongoing collaborations with ANU
  • Physical activity and cancer survivors. Cerebrovascular health and cognition.
  • An integrated approach to monitoring occupational demands and improving resilience and performance readiness in military personnel. Human Performance Research Network (HPRnet).
  • Collaborator on UK Biobank project, application 47813, 'Towards a comprehensive predictive model of the contribution of individual and combination of risk factors to brain ageing, neurodegeneration, and cognitive decline’ led by Professor Nic Cherbuin, ANU.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Mitochondrial Calcium and Respiration: Responses to heat, exercise and muscle damage, University of Sydney

Award Date: 18 Nov 2009


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