View Full Version : PhD Opportunity - University of Paris Sud XI, Orsay, France

05-20-2010, 09:30 PM
The University of Paris Sud, Orsay, France, is seeking candidates to apply
for a PhD student position to be funded via a grant (


Title: Role of the minimal inertia axis in the kinaesthetic control of
unconstrained 3D movements.

Supervisor: Dr Brice Isableu
Research unity CIAMS, University of Paris Sud 11. Team: < Motor Control and
Perception > and < Sport, Science & Innovation Research & Development >

Abstract of the doctoral project:
Motor activities in both sport and everyday life require the production of
complex 3D rotational movements of the upper limbs. Unconstrained 3D
movements can be controlled around different rotation axes; i) the
geometrical articular axis, ii) the principal axis of inertia or iii) an
axis through the arm?s centre of mass (Isableu et al., 2009). Each one of
these axes belong to a distinct spatial frame of reference. The axis around
which the arm rotates defines the contribution of muscle, interaction and
gravitational torques, the proprioceptive and motor consequences for the
regulation of movement and the proficiency with which 3D movements can be
controlled in demanding situations. Given that various limbs or body
configurations typically require flexion of the joints, there is almost
always some separation between these axes of rotation and optimal motions
may involve the employment of one axis over the others. We hypothesise that
the CNS spontaneously exploits biomechanical solutions that reduce both the
arm?s resistance to rotation and the muscle torques required for

This project, which aims to investigate the role of minimum axes of rotation
in motor control, will involve basic research (Isableu et al. 2009;
Bernardin et al. 2005; Pagano and Turvey 1995; van de Langenberg et al.
2008; van de Langenberg et al. 2007), and research and technological
At the basic level, this project will investigate the proprioceptive
detection and exploitation of minimum axes of rotation (Isableu et al.,
2009) during the control of 3D unconstrained multijoint movements in
biological or hybrid limbs (exosketon or automated prosthesis) and in
subjects with reduced mobility due to ageing, central disorders
(proprioceptive deficits, neuropathy) or handicaps (limb amputation) to
iii). We will also investigate the ways in which the CNS limits
biomechanical instabilities to prevent the risk of injuries, to improve the
performance in elite athletes and to facilitate and decrease the duration of
learning of complex multijoint coordination in athletic activities.

The applied research perspectives will lead to the development of
applications, instrumental and technological solutions of substitution,
compensation and assistance of functional deficits in the control of 3D
multiarticular coordination. It will also seek to improve the control and
learning of 3D unconstrained multijoint movements of biological limbs (e.g.,
in athletic subjects, in patients with altered mobility) and hybrid limbs
for amputees (motorized prosthesic devices).

This project is at the crossroad of neuroscience, experimental psychology,
biomechanics, ergonomics and human-machine interaction, and the associated
competencies of several laboratories in the field of experimental
psychology, motor control, biomechanics and biomodeling (Univ of Paris Sud
(Orsay, France), Univ. du Sud Toulon-Var and Clemson Univ.). This project
will combine experimental work on human subjects, biomechanical modeling and
digital simulation and technological development.

Keys words: Minimum axes of rotation; motor control ; spatial frames of
reference ; proprioception ; inertia tensor ; athletic expertise ; learning
; pathologies ; handicap ; ageing.

The following are desirable:
- Masters degree in science or engineering
- Interest in motor control
- Experience of research with human subjects
- Solid grounding in the principles of solid and rigid body biomechanics and
the application of simulation techniques.
- Experience with biomechanics data collection (Vicon) and computer
programming (MatLab, LabView, C++).
- Experience with musculoskeletal modelling (OpenSim) would be appreciated.

The applicants should send a cover letter, a copy of CV and a letter of
recommendation to

brice.isableu@u-psud.fr before 18th June 2010.

The preselected applicant will be asked to present the thesis project to the
doctoral selection committee ED 456 "Sport science, human movement and
motricity" of the University Paris Sud, the 1st July 2010.

Reference List
1. Bernardin D, Isableu B, Fourcade P, Bardy BG (2005) Differential
exploitation of the inertia tensor in multi-joint arm reaching. Exp Brain
Res 167:487-495
2. Isableu B, Rezzoug N, Mallet G, Bernardin D, Gorce P, Pagano CC (2009)
Velocity-dependent changes of rotational axes in the non-visual control of
unconstrained 3D arm motions. Neuroscience 164:1632-1647
3. Pagano CC, Turvey MT (1995) The inertia tensor as a basis for the
perception of limb orientation. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform
4. van de Langenberg RW, Kingma I, Beek PJ (2007) Perception of limb
orientation in the vertical plane depends on center of mass rather than
inertial eigenvectors. Exp Brain Res 180:595-607
5. van de Langenberg RW, Kingma I, Beek PJ (2008) The perception of limb
orientation depends on the center of mass. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform