How do we know the location of something we feel on our skin?

PUBLICATION Seizova-Cajic T, Taylor JL (2014). Somatosensory space abridged: rapid change in tactile localization using a motion stimulus. PLoS One, March DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone 0090892   WHY DID WE DO THIS RESEARCH When we are touched on the skin, sensory receptors in that location fire and send a signal via nerves to the brain, but this is […]

Participant seated in the experimental apperatus. Visible are the leather sleeve and metal occluder positioned on the participant's left forearm. The skin on either side of the metal occluder was brushed (not pictured), and the effect this had on touch localization was assessed by participants pointing on a digitizing table (gray divider between the subject's body and left arm) where they felt the tactile target.

An example of a single trial of the Choice Stepping Reaction-time Test.

The effects of fatigue on reaction time in people with multiple sclerosis

PUBLICATION Barr C, McLoughlin J, Lord SR, Crotty M, Sturnieks DL (2014).Walking for six minutes increases both simple reaction time and stepping reaction time in moderately disabled people with Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders,   WHY DID WE DO THIS RESEARCH People with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) often report fatigue and reduced capacity […]

The human upper airway and its neuromechanical behaviour

PUBLICATION Bilston L & Gandevia S (2014). Biomechanical properties of the human upper airway and their effect on its behavior during breathing and in obstructive sleep apnea. J Appl Physiol 116, 314 –324. WHY DID WE DO THIS RESEARCH Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common disorder which is linked to increased incidence of stroke, myocardial infarction and heart failure (for […]

Magnetic resonance elastography, an MRI-based technique, relies on the principle that the propagation of a vibration wave through tissue depends on its mechanical properties. In upper airway elastography, a vibration from a mouth guard propagates through bones into the tongue and soft palate. The top panel identifies the key anatomical structures and the two lower panels show the elastic properties for a normal subject and a matched obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patient. Note the lower stiffness in the tongue of the OSA patient. Dashed lines outline the tongue and soft palate.

Motor unit recordings from a study participant. In standing balance there was Intermittent motor unit activity in the medial gastrocnemius muscle (red) and continuous activity in the soleus muscle (blue). Interestingly, there was no motor unit activity in the lateral gastrocnemius muscle (middle three recordings). When the participant was supported and performed a ramp and hold contraction, motor units in the lateral gastrocnemius muscle were recruited much later than those from the other parts of the triceps surae.

Balancing act: calf muscles and standing balance

PUBLICATION Héroux ME, Dakin CJ, Luu BL, Inglis JT, Blouin JS (2014). Absence of lateral gastrocnemius activity and differential motor unit behavior in soleus and medial gastrocnemius during standing balance. J Appl Physiol 116, 140-148.   WHY DID WE DO THIS RESEARCH Similar to a pencil balanced on a finger tip, the standing human body is inherently […]

Should we train proprioception in people with knee osteoarthritis?

PUBLICATION: Barry BK, & Sturnieks DL (2014). How important are perturbation responses and joint proprioception to knee osteoarthritis? Journal of Applied Physiology, 116(1), 1–2.   WHY DID WE WRITE THIS EDITORIAL? Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful condition that can substantially interfere with peoples’ daily activities. It will affect one in two people over their […]

Researchers Dr. Daina Sturnieks and Dr. Ben Barry collect biomechanical data from a study participant walking on an instrumented walkway.

Accelerometers used to measure head jerk.

Older people really do have ‘jerkier’ movements

PUBLICATION: Brodie, M. A., Menz, H. B., & Lord, S. R. (2013). Age-associated changes in head jerk while walking reveal altered dynamic stability in older people. Experimental Brain Research. doi: 10.1007/s00221-013-3719-6 WHY DID WE DO THIS RESEARCH: Up to one in three people over 65 fall each year (Masud & Morris, 2001) and many older […]

Dr Hoang preparing to test balance

How common are joint contractures among people with multiple sclerosis?

PUBLICATION: Hoang PD, Gandevia SC, Herbert RD (2013). Prevalence of joint contractures and muscle weakness in people with multiple sclerosis. Disability & Rehabilitation, in press.   WHY DID WE DO THIS RESEARCH? Joint contractures, usually defined as limited passive range of joint motion, are common in people with neurological conditions such as stroke, spinal cord […]