Christopher K Thompson

Assistant Professor
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
1800 N Broad Street


Dr. Christopher K. Thompson earned his DPT and PhD at the University of Illinois at Chicago. During this time, Dr. Thompson examined mechanisms and functional implications of acute increases in maximal torque generation in individuals with chronic spinal cord injuries using biomechanical, electromyographic, pharmacological approaches at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Though a Craig H. Nelisen Foundation postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Thompson has investigated motor unit discharge patterns using the in vivo cat preparation at Northwestern University. This work focused on changes in spinal interneurons following acute chronic incomplete spinal cord injury. During the subsequent T32 fellowship, Dr. Thompson expanded his human work, quantifying motor unit discharge patterns in stroke survivors and individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Thompson has published multiple manuscripts, given numerous presentations at local, national, and international conferences, and received awards from the National Institutes of Health, American Physical Therapy Association, and American College of Sports Medicine. Dr. Thompson is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Temple University. His Spinal Neuromotor Laboratory is located within the Neuromotor Rehabilitation and Virtual Environments Laboratories and contains equipment necessary for contemporary motor unit and kinetic assessments of the human motor system. His laboratory strives to conduct highly collaborative research with the goal of developing life changing therapies for individuals with neurological injury through parallel animal and human investigations of the motor system.


  • PhD, Movement Science, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • DPT, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • BA, Psychology, Miami University

Curriculum Vitae 

Courses Taught




PHTH 8114



NMS 9621

Neuromotor Science 1: Neural Factors


Selected Publications

  • Taylor, C.A., Kopicko, B.H., Negro, F., & Thompson, C.K. (2022). Sex differences in the detection of motor unit action potentials identified using high-density surface electromyography. J Electromyogr Kinesiol, 65, p. 102675. England. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2022.102675

  • Khurram, O.U., Negro, F., Heckman, C.J., & Thompson, C.K. (2021). Estimates of persistent inward currents in tibialis anterior motor units during standing ramped contraction tasks in humans. J Neurophysiol, 126(1), pp. 264-274. United States. doi: 10.1152/jn.00144.2021

  • Lulic-Kuryllo, T., Thompson, C.K., Jiang, N., Negro, F., & Dickerson, C.R. (2021). Neural control of the healthy pectoralis major from low-to-moderate isometric contractions. J Neurophysiol, 126(1), pp. 213-226. United States. doi: 10.1152/jn.00046.2021

  • McAuliffe, D., Kmiec, T., Taylor, C., & Thompson, C. (2020). Non-Linear Discharge of Human Motor Units during Linear Time-Varying Contractions across Motor Pools. 2020 IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium, SPMB 2020 - Proceedings. doi: 10.1109/SPMB50085.2020.9353641

  • Kim, E.H., Wilson, J.M., Thompson, C.K., & Heckman, C.J. (2020). Differences in estimated persistent inward currents between ankle flexors and extensors in humans. J Neurophysiol, 124(2), pp. 525-535. United States. doi: 10.1152/jn.00746.2019

  • Afsharipour, B., Manzur, N., Duchcherer, J., Fenrich, K.F., Thompson, C.K., Negro, F., Quinlan, K.A., Bennett, D.J., & Gorassini, M.A. (2020). Estimation of self-sustained activity produced by persistent inward currents using firing rate profiles of multiple motor units in humans. J Neurophysiol, 124(1), pp. 63-85. United States. doi: 10.1152/jn.00194.2020

  • Wilson, J.M., Thompson, C.K., McPherson, L.M., Zadikoff, C., Heckman, C.J., & MacKinnon, C.D. (2020). Motor Unit Discharge Variability Is Increased in Mild-To-Moderate Parkinson's Disease. Front Neurol, 11, p. 477. Switzerland. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00477

  • Thompson, C.K., Johnson, M.D., Negro, F., Mcpherson, L.M., Farina, D., & Heckman, C.J. (2019). Exogenous neuromodulation of spinal neurons induces beta-band coherence during self-sustained discharge of hind limb motor unit populations. J Appl Physiol (1985), 127(4), pp. 1034-1041. United States. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00110.2019

  • Hassan, A.S., Kim, E.H., Khurram, O.U., Cummings, M., Thompson, C.K., McPherson, L.M., Heckman, C.J., Dewald, J.P.A., & Negro, F. (2019). Properties of Motor Units of Elbow and Ankle Muscles Decomposed Using High-Density Surface EMG. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc, 2019, pp. 3874-3878. United States. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2019.8857475

  • Thompson, C.K., Negro, F., Johnson, M.D., Holmes, M.R., McPherson, L.M., Powers, R.K., Farina, D., & Heckman, C.J. (2018). Robust and accurate decoding of motoneuron behaviour and prediction of the resulting force output. J Physiol, 596(14), pp. 2643-2659. England. doi: 10.1113/JP276153

  • McPherson, J.G., McPherson, L.M., Thompson, C.K., Ellis, M.D., Heckman, C.J., & Dewald, J.P.A. (2018). Altered Neuromodulatory Drive May Contribute to Exaggerated Tonic Vibration Reflexes in Chronic Hemiparetic Stroke. Front Hum Neurosci, 12, p. 131. Switzerland. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00131

  • Johnson, M.D., Thompson, C.K., Tysseling, V.M., Powers, R.K., & Heckman, C.J. (2017). The potential for understanding the synaptic organization of human motor commands via the firing patterns of motoneurons. J Neurophysiol, 118(1), pp. 520-531. United States. doi: 10.1152/jn.00018.2017

  • McPherson, L.M., Negro, F., Thompson, C.K., Sanchez, L., Heckman, C.J., Dewald, J., & Farina, D. (2016). Properties of the motor unit action potential shape in proximal and distal muscles of the upper limb in healthy and post-stroke individuals. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc, 2016, pp. 335-339. United States. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2016.7590708

  • Wilson, J.M., Thompson, C.K., Miller, L.C., & Heckman, C.J. (2015). Intrinsic excitability of human motoneurons in biceps brachii versus triceps brachii. J Neurophysiol, 113(10), pp. 3692-3699. United States. doi: 10.1152/jn.00960.2014

  • Kim, H.E., Thompson, C.K., & Hornby, T.G. (2015). Muscle activation varies with contraction mode in human spinal cord injury. Muscle Nerve, 51(2), pp. 235-245. United States. doi: 10.1002/mus.24285

  • Wei, K., Glaser, J.I., Deng, L., Thompson, C.K., Stevenson, I.H., Wang, Q., Hornby, T.G., Heckman, C.J., & Kording, K.P. (2014). Serotonin affects movement gain control in the spinal cord. J Neurosci, 34(38), pp. 12690-12700. United States. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1855-14.2014

  • Miller, L.C., Thompson, C.K., Negro, F., Heckman, C.J., Farina, D., & Dewald, J.P.A. (2014). High-density surface EMG decomposition allows for recording of motor unit discharge from proximal and distal flexion synergy muscles simultaneously in individuals with stroke. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc, 2014, pp. 5340-5344. United States. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2014.6944832

  • Jayaraman, A., Thompson, C.K., Rymer, W.Z., & Hornby, T.G. (2013). Short-term maximal-intensity resistance training increases volitional function and strength in chronic incomplete spinal cord injury: a pilot study. J Neurol Phys Ther, 37(3), pp. 112-117. United States. doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e31828390a1

  • Thompson, C.K. & Hornby, T.G. (2013). Divergent modulation of clinical measures of volitional and reflexive motor behaviors following serotonergic medications in human incomplete spinal cord injury. J Neurotrauma, 30(6), pp. 498-502. United States. doi: 10.1089/neu.2012.2515

  • Thompson, C.K., Lewek, M.D., Jayaraman, A., & Hornby, T.G. (2011). Central excitability contributes to supramaximal volitional contractions in human incomplete spinal cord injury. J Physiol, 589(Pt 15), pp. 3739-3752. England. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2011.212233

  • Thompson, C.K., Jayaraman, A., Kinnaird, C., & Hornby, T.G. (2011). Methods to quantify pharmacologically induced alterations in motor function in human incomplete SCI. J Vis Exp.(50). United States. doi: 10.3791/2148

  • Frigon, A., Thompson, C.K., Johnson, M.D., Manuel, M., Hornby, T.G., & Heckman, C.J. (2011). Extra forces evoked during electrical stimulation of the muscle or its nerve are generated and modulated by a length-dependent intrinsic property of muscle in humans and cats. J Neurosci, 31(15), pp. 5579-5588. United States. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6641-10.2011

  • Hornby, T.G., Lewek, M.D., Thompson, C.K., & Heitz, R. (2009). Repeated maximal volitional effort contractions in human spinal cord injury: initial torque increases and reduced fatigue. Neurorehabil Neural Repair, 23(9), pp. 928-938. United States. doi: 10.1177/1545968309336147