Digitally created image of brain in skull

ForeFront

RESEARCH CENTRE

Students

The program aims to provide rigour and excellence in laboratory and clinical research training to the next generation of clinical researchers.

From the laboratory perspective, we will continue to train PhD and honours students through university academic programs, and to mentor postdoctoral researchers to develop into independent scientists. We will disseminate the wide range of experimental techniques and model systems that are used in this program to train the next generation of molecular neuroscientists.

From the clinical perspective, we propose to expand the current personnel by supporting clinical fellows, provide for PhD scholarship stipends, in addition to funding a dedicated clinical research neuropsychologist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, clinical nurse specialist, exercise physiologist and database manager. As such, the program will train clinical researchers and will facilitate development of career paths that encompass integrated neuroscience and clinical skills. This strategy will ensure an emerging cohort of clinician researchers who can facilitate translation of neuroscience findings into clinical practice and, importantly, optimise public health benefits by disseminating most recent evidence-based practice to community settings. Each clinician researcher will be trained in an interdisciplinary culture, co-supervised by investigators with different areas of expertise, thereby promoting integration of diverse approaches.

Prof Kril has academic expertise in research student training (Assoc Dean, Postgraduate Studies, Sydney Medical School) and will take prime responsibility for developing and overseeing training and mentoring within the program with the remit to substantially grow our capacity in this area.

For more information on how to get involved with either the clinical or laboratory based research please contact jillian.kril@sydney.edu.au.

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Cortical activity during balance tasks in ageing and clinical groups using functional near-infrared spectroscopy

Prof Stephen Lord, Dr Jasmine Menant Walking is not automatic and requires attention and brain processing to maintain balance and prevent falling over. Brain structure and function deteriorate with ageing and neurodegenerative disorders, in turn impacting both cognitive and motor functions.   This series of studies will investigate: How do age and/or disease- associated declines in cognitive functions affect balance control? How is this further impacted by psychological, physiological and medical factors (eg. fear, pain, medications)? How does the brain control these balance tasks?     Approach The experiments involve experimental paradigms that challenge cognitive functions of interest (eg.visuo-spatial working memory, inhibitory function). I use functional near-infrared spectroscopy to study activation in superficial cortical regions of interest (eg. prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor area…). The studies involve young and older people as well as clinical groups (eg.Parkinson’s disease).   Studies Cortical activity during stepping and gait adaptability tasks Effects of age, posture and task condition on cortical activity during reaction time tasks Influence of balance challenge and concern about falling on brain activity during walking Influence of lower limb pain/discomfort on brain activity during stepping   This research will greatly improve our understanding of the interactions between brain capacity, functions and balance control across ageing and diseases, psychological, physiological and medical factors, allows to identify targets for rehabilitation. It will also help identifying whether exercise-based interventions improve neural efficiency for enhanced balance control.
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