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Neural modulation of cognitive-motor interference in ageing


Project Description

Background: Trunk muscles play an important role in the maintenance of upright posture and balance. Postural control and balance are often altered in older people and that is significantly associated with higher risk of falling. Traditionally, poor balance is connected with muscle weakness of lower limbs and strengthening of those muscles is a standard approach for balance improvement. However, a recent review has shown weak correlations between measures of balance and muscle strength of lower limbs, suggesting contributions of balance control from other factors. It is well documented that cognitive function can have impact on balance. Work has shown that older people become less stable in dual tasking, i.e. walking and talking concurrently. However, the mechanisms underlying cognitive-motor interference remain largely unknown. Hence, the aim of this project is to investigate neural modulation relating to the influence of cognitive process on motor performance and to determine how this is affected by ageing. Dual-task paradigms will be employed for investigation of cognitive-motor interactions.

Objectives: 1) To investigate neural modulation of postural control in dual tasking; 2) To identify the effect of ageing on neural modulation of postural control in dual tasking; 3) To determine the relationship between age-related changes in neural modulation of postural control and balance deterioration.

Methods: Participants will be healthy young and healthy old adults. They will undergo neurophysiological assessments while performing a cognitive task and a motor task concurrently. Corticospinal excitability, neural oscillations, and neuromuscular control will be assessed using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and electromyography (EMG), respectively. Participants will have their balance and gait assessed using a 3D motion capture system and force plates. The assessments may performance in more than one occasions in order to determine changes in neural modulation of postural control and balance function along the ageing course. A rich dataset consisting of different aspects of data will be generated and computed using state-of-the-art data analysis approaches.

Funding Notes

The University of Birmingham offers students of the highest calibre the opportunity to compete for a number of international scholarships. For a full list, see View Website

Students are also welcome to apply with their own funding for this project (fees and maintenance), either through their own personal finances or by securing a scholarship.

Eligibility requirements include a 2:1 BSc (Hons) degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences or Psychology or a relevant area, and an English language certificate (English at GCSE or equivalent). A masters level degree is desirable but not essential.

References

1. Chiou SY, Hurry M, Reed T, Quek JX, Strutton PH. Cortical contributions to anticipatory postural adjustments in the trunk. J Physiol. 2018;596:1295-1306.

2. Chiou SY, Gottardi SE, Hodges PW, Strutton PH. Corticospinal Excitability of Trunk Muscles during Different Postural Tasks. PLoS One. 25;11:e0147650.

3. Muehlbauer T, Gollhofer A, Granacher U. Associations Between Measures of Balance and Lower-Extremity Muscle Strength/Power in Healthy Individuals Across the Lifespan: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.Sports Med. 2015;45:1671-92.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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