Department: Human Movement Sciences
Supervisor: Prof. Claudine Lamoth, PhD
The natural process of aging is accompanied by a myriad of structural and functional changes in the human body. As these changes progress a decline in physical fitness, balance control, sensorimotor function, and motor control is observed. At the behavioral level, the decline in these systems inhibits the capacity of the body to function independently and adapt to the environment, especially among the expanding number of old (older than ∼60 yr.) and very old (older than ∼80 yr.) adults. The neuro-motor-physiological systems are complex systems comprising of many interacting component subsystems that are connected over a variety of different scales and levels. A hallmark of healthy complex systems is that various neuro-motor-physiological parameters tend to oscillate between several steady states, and are coupled resulting in synchronized behavior, e.g. cardio-respiratory, locomotor-cardio or locomotor-respiratory systems. When we breathe and walk, we frequently make the same number of steps during each breath and our breath syncs with the heartbeat. Heart-beats per minute or time between steps of walking may stay relatively constant for a long time, yet the fluctuations between beats, or the variability of steps during waking become more regular and less complex with age.
In this project, we study the effect of age on the interaction between the locomotor, cardiac respiratory systems in terms of coupling during controlled physical activity tasks (walking on a treadmill, balance task) and during daily life activities. Participants (18–70 years) will wear a smart T-shirt with embedded textile sensors when walking (5 min) running (5 min) rest and again walking and running outside.
Synchronization of locomotion-respiratory-cardio rhythms will be established by applying signal analysis methods that quantify phase- or frequency locking epochs.
For this project knowledge of Matlab or Python and/or R-software is required.