This Major Research Instrumentation award permits Dr. Nicholas Stergiou and four co-investigators to purchase a functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) system. The participating researchers are all active in the area of human movement and neuroscience. This system enables imaging of the brain in functional postures and activities such as standing and walking. Brain imaging is therefore enabled under more natural conditions with this instrument, compared with other technologies that require the person to lie flat and still. The fNIRS is a rapidly emerging technology that will transform the current research program at the Nebraska Biomechanics Core Facility, enabling the realization of leading-edge research. This facility specializes in the neuromuscular control of gait and balance. It combines the principles of motor control with mathematical theory to develop novel biotechnologies that manipulate the sensory pathways for enhanced control of movement.
The fNIRS will play a key role in this program of research, allowing the researchers to examine the neural correlates of auditory, visual and tactile feedback that have previously been shown to improve gait, balance and upper limb movement. This new knowledge will be later applied in the rehabilitation of movement in patient populations. Beyond the Nebraska Biomechanics Core Facility, the fNIRS technology will be subject to both intra- and inter-institutional use. Researchers from Creighton University and the Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska at Omaha propose a number of fundamental research activities that will be enabled by the fNIRS instrument. In these activities cortical brain activity will be examined before, during and after aerobic exercise to establish whether or not cognitive performance and brain activity in the prefrontal cortex is related to aerobic exercise. Inhibitory control of irrelevant or redundant sensory information is known as 'gating' of neuronal responses. Another project will examine the test-retest reliability of sensory gating, measured using an established paradigm. Additional research will investigate the neural correlates of lower-limb muscular fatigue and the effect of biofeedback on cortical activity in motor learning, based on a four-week training study.
The Nebraska Biomechanics Core Facility is committed to involving undergraduate and graduate students in research, reflected in the many student volunteers, paid student workers and interns that have passed though the facility since its establishment. The fNIRS instrumentation will transform the vista of potential research questions that these students can tackle. Additionally, the Nebraska Biomechanics Core Facility is involved in outreach initiatives that invite low-income high school students to the facility to expose them to biomechanics as a possible future career. The fNIRS will be a particularly exciting device to add to this program and will stimulate interest in the neurosciences in this population of students who are currently underrepresented at university level.
|Effective start/end date||8/15/12 → 7/31/15|
- National Science Foundation: $233,368.00