Lara Boyd

Prof. Lara Boyd, PT, PhD

Dr. Lara Boyd is the Canada Research Chair in Neurobiology of Motor Learning, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Career Investigator, a Peter Wall Scholar, and Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, at the University of British Columbia. She is a Neuroscientist and Physical Therapist. Dr. Boyd directs the Brain Behaviour Lab at the University of British Columbia, which performs research employing multimodal imaging and is designed to advance theoretical conceptualizations of how brain function relates to behaviour during learning. She is an expert in neuroimaging and neurophysiology.                      

Dr. Boyd was born in California, obtained a BA degree in English Literature in 1989 from Pomona College and a MS degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California in 1992.  After practicing as a Physical Therapist for several years she returned to the University of Southern California and gained a PhD in Neuroscience/Kinesiology in 2001.  She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Neurology at the University of New Mexico in 2003.  Dr. Boyd was recruited to the University of British Columbia in 2006 from the University of Kansas to take a Canada Research Chair position.  Since that time, she has established the Brain Behaviour Lab, recruited and trained over 60 graduate students, published more than 150 papers and been awarded over $10 million in research dollars. In addition, her 2015 TED talk on learning and brain plasticity ( has over 22 million views.

While Dr. Boyd’s academic training is as a neuroscientist, the questions studied by her lab are framed by her clinical training as a physical therapist.  Dr. Boyd’s research program is focused on understanding neuroplastic change in the brain with the goal of refining rehabilitation interventions for people with stroke with this knowledge.  Specifically, her work seeks to understand how motor learning may be enhanced, and what structural and functional changes in the brain support learning.  In her research she employs a number of cutting edge technologies including: functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electroencephalography, electromyography, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), robotics, and behavioural testing/training.  Further, her group also uses repetitive TMS to experimentally alter local cortical excitability.  Taken together, these approaches allow her research group to form a robust picture of when the brain is changed and by what type(s) of interventions; logically these efforts are leading to the development of novel, and more effective, therapeutics for individuals with brain damage. Further this knowledge is being translated into mathematical algorithms that enable the prediction of recovery trajectories and are designed to help match stroke patients with the correct therapy at the optimal time and dose.

Dr. Boyd also serves as the Health Research Advisor to the Vice-President of Research & Innovation at UBC and is the University’s delegate to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.