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Congratulations to BRC member, Dr Turgay Akay on receiving a CIHR Project Grant for his project "Sensory control of muscle synergies during walking", announced in January 2019. The CIHR Project Grant program is designed to capture ideas with the greatest potential to advance health-related fundamental or applied knowledge, health research, health care, health systems, and/or health outcomes.
Dr Akay's abstract:
The aim of this project is to provide important insights into sensory feedback mechanisms that regulate the locomotor activity and how these mechanisms are affected during aging. We plan to reach this The aim of this project is to provide important insights into sensory feedback mechanisms that regulate the locomotor activity and how these mechanisms are affected during aging. We plan to reach this aim by using a combination of mouse genetics, in vivo electrophysiology, and behavioral observations. From research over a century, it has been established that locomotor activity is controlled by a set of interconnected spinal interneurons, referred to as "central pattern generator" (CPG). Sensory feedback has been shown to be important in aiding CPG function, so that the locomotor activity is always appropriate to the environmental need. Moreover, walking in the natural environment is typically unpredictably variable, making sensory feedback necessary for functional locomotion. However, the capability to cope with unpredicted changes in the environment during walking gets compromised with advancing age. This leads to increased incidences of injuries related to falls in elderly people adding to costs to health care. Therefore, understanding the sensory feedback mechanisms that control locomotor activity and how these mechanisms change during aging can help elderly patients to regain the walking ability compromised by disease or aging. Therefore, the data emerging from this project will provide important insights that will be crucial for clinical research to help patients with compromised walking ability not only due to aging, but also to diseases or injuries.
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