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  • PhD studentships at the IRM in the Manchester MetropolitanUniversity

    There are 2 PhD studentships available for immediate start at the Institute
    for Biophysical and Clinical Research into Human Movement (IRM) of the
    Manchester Metropolitan University:

    1. Neural mechanisms and mobility in the elderly: the determining influence
    of visual, non-visual and perceptual mechanisms on posture and coordinated
    movement

    Mobility is fundamental to human activity and taken for granted in younger
    healthy people. During older age, visual, proprioceptive, vestibular,
    integrative and interpretative processes, and whole body coordination
    degenerate such that ordinary yet demanding tasks that determine mobility
    become more daunting and difficult. These include standing and walking;
    particularly skilled stepping such as stair negotiation, passing through
    doorways and walking in confined spaces containing obstacles. The student
    will investigate the neural mechanisms that underlie the commonly observed
    changes in mobility associated with ageing. The main interest of the project
    is the relationship between physiological deterioration in visual and
    proprioceptive control mechanisms (including neural bandwidth, sensory
    thresholds and perceptual accuracy), psychological factors including the
    fear of falling, and movement skill and coordination required for balance
    and purposeful locomotion. Techniques will includes visual and
    proprioceptive feedback control of balance, whole body motion analysis and
    eye tracking during skilled stepping, particularly stair ascent and descent.
    A degree in physical/physiological science is desirable and the project will
    involve development of analysis and experimental techniques using MATLAB.

    Principle supervisors : Dr Dilwyn Marple-Horvat and Dr Ian Loram

    Starting date: ASAP
    Location: IRM Laboratories in MMU

    Duration: 3 years: All fees paid plus a Bursary of £12,000 per annum

    For further information please contact:
    Dr Ian Loram on 0161 247 5739, email, I.Loram@mmu.ac.uk or
    Dr Dilwyn MarpleHorvat on 0161 5535, email, D.E.Marple-Horvat@mmu.ac.uk


    2. The proprioceptive and visual control of human balance in relation to
    ageing and disease

    Maintaining balance is a skill that we all depend upon for a healthy and
    satisfying life, and yet it is a task that can stretch human motor skill to
    the limits of its biological capability. It is known that humans register
    and process sensory information imperfectly and can only construct
    appropriate motor output at a moderate and limited rate. These restrictions
    are tested by our ability to balance and control unstable loads. Using
    visual-proprioceptive balance apparatus and ultrasound analysis of muscle
    displacement, this project will investigate the visual and proprioceptive
    control of balance using healthy subjects of differing age, and diseased
    subjects with differing neuro-motor limitations e.g. Parkinsonís or
    cerebellar disease. In particular, the interest is in the comparison of
    proprioceptive and visual modalities with application to ageing and
    Parkinsonís disease, and on the frequency bandwidth of central control in
    relation to ageing and cerebellar disease.
    Since the project depends on flexible development of analysis using MATLAB,
    an essential requirement for the successful applicant is an aptitude for,
    and interest in computer programming, as well as a sustained interest in
    human motor control and engineering psychology. The project will require
    experimental work to be carried out in the laboratory and at times, away
    from the laboratory in clinical settings. A degree in
    physical/physiological/computer science, mathematics or engineering is
    desirable.

    If you are interested, please make immediate contact by expressing an
    interest and sending a full c.v. to Dr Ian Loram at I.Loram@mmu.ac.uk
    Funding (fees and maintenance) is available for EU applicants only. No
    financial support is available for non EU applicants.



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