Many sensory systems provide the brain with the information it needs for orientation, maintain balance and to make successful movements of the limbs. Sensations from joints muscle and skin, signals from the vestibular organs of the inner ear, vision and sound are merged together so automatically that we are hardly aware of it - until something goes wrong. One aim of our research is to understand how the brain combines these different senses to form a single of the body, and its orientation and how, when things go wrong, it leads to debilitating problems such as vertigo, motion sickness and falls. To plan and execute successful movements, whether voluntary or automatic, the brain also needs to know about the load it has to move. Loads are constantly changing during ordinary activities and the brain must create an internal image of how they are changing and adapt to them. Not being able to adapt and scale the reflex and voluntary commands sent to muscles results in devastating movement disorders. Our research is investigating the sensory, neural and muscular processes that provide for this adaption of motor responses and to load and sensory conditions and why it goes wrong in different clinical conditions and with ageing.
Richard Fitzpatrick (BSc MBBS PhD MAcadWHUFC) undertook his initial training with Ian McCloskey and David Burke at the University of New South Wales. He has many research interests in the neuroscience of human sensation, posture balance and movement control, the integration of motor and cardiovascular responses. He applies a wide range of neurophysiological and psychophysical techniques to investigate fundamental human physiology and pathophysiology relevant to a wide range of clinical conditions. He serves on editorial boards including the Journal of Physiology and the Journal of Applied Physiology.