Phoebe Macrae staff profile

Senior Lecturer Above the BarPhoebe Macrae

Psychology 310


Research Interests

Coughing and swallowing are crucial to our survival due to their role in protecting our airways. Dysfunction of these two functions frequently co-occurs, critically compromising our respiratory system. Approximately 9,000 New Zealanders will be diagnosed with swallowing impairment each year due to a vast array of medical diagnoses (i.e., stroke, head and neck cancer). Almost one third of these patients will die from secondary complications, such as pneumonia. There is an urgent clinical need to better understand the coordination of these functions, so that diagnosis is improved, and an understanding of the mechanisms by which remediation of impairment is gained. Of the medical diagnoses associated with a swallowing and coughing impairment, Māori are disproportionately represented in burden statistics, indicating increased risk of living with the effects of dysfunction. I have three distinct but related areas of research in the area of upper aerodigestive function:
- Defining the role of sensation in upper aerodigestive function
- Increasing scientific rigor of outcome measures of upper aerodigestive function
- Addressing hauora inequities for Māori
My research programme utilizes expertise from a range of disciplines to explore the relationship between respiration, swallowing and coughing. This will improve our ability to diagnose and manage dysfunction in any one of these systems. My thorough approach to scientific rigor and sustained productivity in transforming outcome measurement will ensure robust estimates of these functions, significantly impacting our capacity to characterize mechanisms of dysfunction. I am developing Kaupapa Māori research to indigenize management of these disorders, and enhance clinical competence in service delivery.

Recent Publications

  • Erfmann KLC., Macrae PR., Jones RD., Guiu Hernandez E. and Huckabee ML. (2022) Effects of cerebellar transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on motor skill learning in swallowing. Disability and Rehabilitation 44(11): 2276-2284.
  • Kwong SL., Hernandez EG., Winiker K., Gozdzikowska K., Macrae P. and Huckabee ML. (2022) Effect of Topical Nasal Anesthetic on Comfort and Swallowing in High-Resolution Impedance Manometry. Laryngoscope 132(11): 2124-2131.
  • Miller KJW., Macrae P., Paskaranandavadivel N., Huckabee ML. and Cheng LK. (2022) Non-invasive assessment of swallowing using flexible high-density electromyography arrays. Proceedings of the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS 2022-July: 5120-5123.
  • Ng KB., Guiu Hernandez E., Erfmann KLC., Jones RD., Macrae P. and Huckabee ML. (2022) Effect of Volitional Effort on Submental Surface Electromyographic Activity During Healthy Swallowing. Dysphagia 37(2): 297-306.
  • Winiker K., Gozdzikowska K., Guiu Hernandez E., Kwong SL., Macrae P. and Huckabee ML. (2022) Potential for Behavioural Pressure Modulation at the Upper Oesophageal Sphincter in Healthy Swallowing. Dysphagia 37(4): 763-771.