Dr. E. Paul Zehr

Dr. E. Paul Zehr
Professor, MSFHR Biomedical Research Scholar
School of Exercise Science, Physical & Health Education


Dr. Paul Zehr  is a neuroscientist, author, and martial artist. His passion for martial arts spurred his interest in science and how the nervous system controls the movements humans could make in their everyday lives. Dr. Zehr’s research focuses on understanding neuromuscular plasticity; the ability of the human body to recover its activity after neurological traumas such as stroke. His study on arm and leg coordination during walking proves that despite human being a bipedal organism, all four limbs get integrated during locomotion, where arms actively contribute to the neurological activity of legs and vice-versa (Zehr, Hundza, & Vasudevan, 2009). Dr. Zehr has successfully used the quadrupedal-like coordination among human arms and legs in the interventions to successfully recover the lost functions in patients after a stroke (Dragert & Zehr, 2010). According to Dr. Zehr, neural plasticity has no expiration date and understanding the quadrupedal like movement, role of the spinal cord in walking, and adaptive plasticity of nervous system could help in retraining the human nervous system after a damage, and enhancing its ability across all ages.

Along with teaching kinesiology and neuroscience to undergraduate and graduate students, he believes in communicating science to society in an approachable way. Dr. Zehr has written books, including Becoming Batman (2008), Inventing IronMan (2011), Project Superhero (2014) and the forthcoming book Creating Captain America (2018), using superhero as metaphors in explaining science without overwhelming the readers. His book Becoming Batman later formed the basis for the course “Science of Batman” at the University of Victoria. This undergraduate course, taken by students from science and non-science faculties, explores the human body and its adaptability through the life of Batman while discussing concepts like adaptation, aging, nutrition, concussion, steroids, potential and limitations of the human body.

Dr. Zehr is a regular speaker at conferences and comic conventions and writes for The Science, Engineering, and Technology Magazine for Teenagers, Scientific American Online, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Maxim, Popular Mechanics, Discover, Maclean’s magazines, and blogs at Scientific American and Psychology Today.

Research interests:

Dr. Zehr research has two major themes: basic science discoveries in neural control of human rhythmic limb movement, clinical characterization and translation to neuromuscular plasticity and rehabilitation after neurotrauma. Click here to read more about Dr. Zehr's research 

Research Clusters:

Health and Technology Health and Healthy Habits

Cognitive Health

ngtuihClick here for Dr. Zehr's google profile and citations

Research Foci:

neural control of human movement after stroke and spinal cord

arm and leg coordination during walking

enhancing neuroplasticity


motor behaviour

exercise psychology

Educational qualification:

Ph.D. Neuroscience

        University of Alberta (1998)

M.Sc. Human Biodynamics

       McMaster University (1993)

B.P.E. Kinesiology

       McMaster University (1991)

Professional Affiliation:

    • 2011-present

Professor, Neuroscience, Division of Medical Sciences, UVic    

    • 2008-present

Professor, Kinesiology & neuroscience laboratory, Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory, School of Excercise Science, Physical, and Health education, Faculty of Education, UVic

    • 2008-present

Director, Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Victoria

    • 2002-present

Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education & Recreation, University of Alberta 


    •  Canadian Association for Neuroscience

    • Society for Neuroscience

    • American Physiological Society 

            Books by Dr. Zehr:

Becoming Batman (2008)

Inventing Iron Man (2011)

Project Superhero(2014)

Captain America(2018)


View all Faces of UVic Research videos.
 In this video Dr. Zehr discusses his research into the recovery of walking after the nervous system has been damaged. He also explains the nervous systems' capacity to change, either after injury or in improvement in all individuals.