Dr Hayley MacDonald BSc (Hon), PhD

Dr Hayley MacDonald

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr MacDonald’s research focuses on the behavioural, neurophysiological and genetic mechanisms of impulse control i.e. how we control our actions. She is especially interested in how these mechanisms may be influenced by dopamine dysregulation as seen in Parkinson’s disease and other dopamine-related disorders. She utilizes techniques such as non-invasive brain stimulation, genotyping, and brain imaging to investigate mechanisms of inhibitory control.


  • BSc - Sport and Exercise Sciences & Physiology (University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2007-2009)
  • BSc (Honours) - Sport and Exercise Sciences (University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2010)
  • PhD - Motor Neuroscience (University of Auckland, New Zealand, 2011-2015)


Hayley joined the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences in May 2016 as a Postdoctoral Fellow to investigate the relationship between impaired oscillatory brain activity and memory deficits in Parkinson’s disease. She became a Lecturer in the school in May 2018. Originally from South Africa, Hayley completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Her doctoral research was supported by the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand and conducted in the Movement Neuroscience Laboratory focusing on mechanisms of impulse control and the potential implications for Parkinson’s disease.

Hayley has expertise in non-invasive brain stimulation (transcranial magnetic stimulation, transcranial direct current stimulation) and recording techniques (electromyography, electroencephalography, magnetic resonance imaging), programming, computational modelling, and conducting research with healthy, aging and clinical populations. 


Module lead (2015) - Motor Neuroscience (University of Auckland, New Zealand)

Hayley contributed to modules on the BSc Sport and Exercise Sciences course at the University of Birmingham.

Postgraduate supervision

Hayley currently supervises 2 graduate research students (1 PhD, 1 Masters by research).


Research Interests

Movement is fundamentally the only way to interact with our environment. An essential role of the brain is therefore to control our movements and only generate ones appropriate for the surroundings. Actions are executed in the context of several decisions including: when to act, which action to execute and whether or not to proceed with the action. The decision about whether to inhibit or proceed with an action is termed impulse control and is a necessary part of daily behaviour, particularly to enable adaptation to novel and challenging situations. Impulse control is impaired in a diverse range of neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette’s syndrome etc.

Dr MacDonald’s lab investigates the behavioural, neurophysiological and genetic mechanisms of impulse control and how these mechanisms are influenced by dopamine disturbance.

Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Hayley_MacDonald

Other activities

Hayley is a member of the British Neuroscience Association and Physiological Society.

Hayley acts as a reviewer for various international peer-reviewed journals including Journal of Neurophysiology; Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience; Experimental Brain Research; Journal of Neuroscience; Human Brain Mapping; Neuromodulation; Behavioral Neuroscience; European Journal of Neuroscience; Journal of Human Movement Science; PLOS ONE; Movement Disorders


  1. MacDonald McCardle H.J,  Brittain J, Hanslmayr S &  Jenkinson N (2019), Memory deficits in Parkinson's disease are associated with reduced beta power modulation In : Brain Communications. 1, 1, p. 1-16 16 p., fcz040.

  2. Cirillo J, Cowie MJ, MacDonald HJ, Byblow WD. (2018) Response inhibition activates distinct motor cortical inhibitory processes. J Neurophysiol. 119: 877-86

  3. MacDonald H.J., McMorland A.J.C, Stinear C.M, Coxon J.P, Byblow W.D. (2017). An Activation Threshold Model for Response Inhibition. PLoS One. 12(1)
  4. Cowie M.J, MacDonald H.J., Cirillo J, Byblow W.D. Proactive Modulation of Long-Interval Intracortical Inhibition during Response Inhibition. (2016) J Neurophysiol. 116(2), 859-67
  5. MacDonald H.J., Stinear C.M, Ren A, Coxon J.P, Kao J, Macdonald L, Snow B, Cramer S.C, Byblow W.D. (2016) Dopamine Gene Profiling to Predict Impulse Control and Effects of Dopamine Agonist Ropinirole. J Cogn Neurosci,10(7), 1-11
  6. Ackerley S.J., Byblow W.D., Barber A.P., MacDonald H.J., McIntyre-Robinson A., and Stinear C.M. (2015) Primed physical therapy enhances recovery of upper limb function in chronic stroke patients. Neurorehab & Neural Repair, 30(4), 339-348.
  7. MacDonald, H. J., & Byblow, W. D. (2015). Does response inhibition have pre- and postdiagnostic utility in Parkinson's disease? J Mot Behav, 47(1), 29-45.
  8. MacDonald, H. J., Coxon, J. P., Stinear, C. M., & Byblow, W. D. (2014). The fall and rise of corticomotor excitability with cancellation and reinitiation of prepared action. J Neurophysiol, 112(11), 2707-2717
  9. MacDonald, H. J., Stinear, C. M., & Byblow, W. D. (2012). Uncoupling response inhibition. J Neurophysiol, 108(5), 1492-1500.

View all publications in research portal