Dr Martine Verheul

Lecturer in Skill Acquisition & Motor Control


Martine has been lecturing in Motor Control at the University of Edinburgh since 2006. She is a member of the Human Performance Science group.

Martine studied Human Movement Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. For her MSc degree, she studied the dynamic characteristics of the walking pattern of people with Parkinson's disease and she spent four months at the Montreal Rehabilitation Institute investigating the control of arm movements in people who had experienced a stroke. Martine conducted her subsequent PhD research in Neuropsychology at the University of Groningen. She analysed the nature of the asymmetry in bimanual coordination in right-handers and left-handers, comparing various models, and investigated the link between the coordination difficulties in people with Parkinson's disease and the asymmetry of symptoms between the left and right side of the body. She then took a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Institute for Biophysical and Clinical Research into Human Movement at the Manchester Metropolitan University, where she taught Sport and Exercise Science students and focused her research on the coordination and development of sports skills, building on her previous research to investigate how people coordinate the different parts of their body and external information in goal-directed, whole-body tasks, such as intercepting a moving ball. Participants in her research ranged from children with cerebral palsy to elite football players.

Now a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, she teaches Applied Sport Science students and Physical Education students about motor coordination, motor learning and motor development. Inspired by the dynamic approach to motor development and the constraints-led approach to motor learning (two complementary approaches), she teaches about the importance of exploration and guided discovery when learning movement skills. She has been involved in research into the nature of movement education in the pre-school in collaboration with the Developmental Physical Education Group and is a member of the Perception Movement Action Research Centre. She has supervised a number of PhD research projects, more recently on exercise and sport interventions for people with cerebellar ataxia and children with cerebral palsy. Martine feels strongly about access to sport and physical activity and aims to break down barriers and facilitate participation through her research and knowledge exchange activities in the area of adapted physical activity.

Undergraduate teaching

  • Motor Control (Year 4) (Course Organiser)
  • Exercise Prescription for Rehabilitation (Year 4)
  • Sport Science Project (Year 3) (Course Organiser)
  • Sport Science 3B: Skill Acquisition (Year 3) (Course Organiser)
  • Applying Sport Science (Year 3)
  • Sport Science 2D: Research Methods (Year 2) (Course Organiser)
  • Sport Science 2A: Skill Acquisition (Year 2)
  • Sport Science 1A: Skill Acquisition (Year 1)
  • Education 2A: Motor Development (Year 2)

Postgraduate teaching

  • PhD supervision
  • Sport Science Dissertation

Areas of interest for supervision

Areas of expertise:

  • Skill Acquisition and Motor Control 
  • Motor Development
  • Neuropsychology of Perception and Movement
  • Motor Control in Special Populations (e.g., cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, stroke)
  • Research Methods
  • 3D Motion Capture

Research summary

  • coordination of complex movements, for example the soccer kick, the split jump in dance and gymnastics and expressive bimanual movements as part of sign language.
  • changes in perceptual-motor coordination as a result of aging, disease or disability and the effects of exercise or movement interventions. 
  • motor development in children, in particular the exploratory process by which complex movements are learned and how this process can be facilitated by early childhood practitioners and physical education teachers.

Project activity

  • Sit-Dance: The effects of Sit-Dance on aerobic fitness, strength, flexibility, coordination, self-esteem and mood in older adults.   
  • RaceRunning: The physical and psychological health benefits of RaceRunning.

View all 16 publications on Research Explorer