Page 14-15 - NeuRA 2013 in Review

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Main image:
Researching the
sensory system.
Inset:
(top) Balance and strength exercises
in the home (bottom) Dr Jasmine Menant
with a participant in the dizziness trial.
‘‘
Often we take the basic functions of our body –
breathing, sleeping, walking, balancing and grasping
objects – for granted until something goes wrong.
’’
your
Take a moment to look down and appreciate your
hand – it’s an extraordinary sensory and motor
organ: you use it to explore the world using your
sense of touch and perception. At the same time
it is so sophisticated an instrument that you can
also use it to manipulate objects and change the
environment around you. Your ability to do this is
a remarkable neurological feat – you control more
than 20 hand muscles simultaneously!
NeuRA scientists are examining how the
sensory system works, how it affects the motor
output from the brain, and how it gives us an
accurate ‘sensory’ map of the external world,
allowing us to make accurate movements.
Often we take the functions of our body –
breathing, sleeping, walking, balancing and grasping
objects – for granted until something goes wrong.
This robs us of our innate abilities, through diseases
such as multiple sclerosis, disorders such as strokes,
or through ageing. Vertigo, dizziness, falling over,
muscle fatigue and weakness, muscle contractures
and impaired movement are debilitating outcomes
of these diseases and disorders.
We are studying how these fundamental
systems work, including the physiological,
biomechanical and neurological aspects, as well as
what happens when they go wrong. For many of
these disorders, we also have to establish their
prevalence and incidence, which we can do through
our clinical work.
Your Body | 13
The human body is an amazing machine that relies on a delicate interplay
between our senses, our balance, our muscles and our brain.