Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - MOVING BEYOND (Industrial Academic Initial Training Network towards focused treatment of age-related motor symptoms.)

Locomotion is crucially influenced by supraspinal motor centres of the brain, including the basal ganglia with the putamen, caudate nucleus and the ventral striatum as input structures, and the globus pallidus pars interna and the substantia nigra pars reticulata as output structure. The basal ganglia are, in addition, the main node and “bottleneck” for motor, cognitive and limbic circuits with cortical involvement. Despite important insights, significant gaps in our understanding of supraspinal motor control and their relationship to ageing and neurodegeneration states still exist. The present project focuses on the role of supraspinal motor control mechanisms in ageing and Parkinson’s disease (PD). It spans the entire spectrum from basic understanding of these mechanisms, over diagnostics to therapeutic applications of supraspinal motor control deficits.

Immediately after recruitment, fellows started to work on their respective PhD projects. Moving Beyond partners have established a lively network and profit from the exchange of both knowledge and research means and resources, implemented by secondments. Fellows were integrated in the training program of Moving Beyond including a personal development plan, decision about a second mentor and enrolment in a Graduate School and – if necessary – participation in a language course. Three training weeks – including soft skill courses – have already taken place, and were evaluated by both fellows and organizers. The Moving Beyond website was established as a teaching and reference tool for the fellows (internal pages) and to raise the public awareness of the project ( All fellows published a brief description about themselves and their research interests there as first outreach activity. Further activities are in preparation. All partners of the consortium meet regularly to present result and to discuss open points.

Improve understanding of supraspinal movement control: With age, and even more so in people with PD the ability to navigate a given environment becomes more challenging. Project 1 tests the hypothesis that part of the above-mentioned difficulty is due to the brain’s inability to select the most appropriate movement, and study this by comparing how young, elderly and people with PD react to different environments. The relationship between the predictability of an event in the environment and ones movement reaction is investigated. The fellow from Project 2 develops algorithmic methods to establish and quantify motor indices in PD. The algorithms developed will be used to help assess disease progression and severity, response to intervention, and possibly also prodromal stages of the disease. In Project 3, basic research results from the lamprey show that selective movements can be elicited from the lateral pallium via projections to different motor centres and basal ganglia structures and thus suggest that in this respect the lamprey aligns itself with other vertebrate species.
Improve ambulatory diagnostics of supraspinal movement control deficits: Project 4 combines the evolution of modern biomechanical and signal processing techniques in order to provide a compelling diagnostic and evaluative tool for PD patients. The fellow tries to understand how movement analysis reflects the computation performed by the brain with a single ambulatory inertial sensor, translating the laboratory to the patients’ home environment and analysing daily life movement. Thus, an easily deployable and accessible method to the widest possible population contributes to clinical practice while creating a substantial value for public health. The fellow from project 5 aims to develop applications that integrate multiple systems like virtual reality environments and medical equipment responsible for measuring physiological states of the human being, useful in the research of PD and rehabilitation of patients. The fellow uses electroencephalogram to record brain activity on the scalp and body markers to extract gait parameters, both important to understand how the brain is impaired in PD patients and how can that correlate with their motor impairments. A wearable, non-obtrusive system of inertial sensors, developed in Project 6, for evaluation of the fall risk can objectively assess the quality and quantity of human’s motion. Moreover, it allows the implementation of optimal exercise and rehabilitation programs to reduce deterioration in independent functioning and enables proactive disease management that may precipitate falls and reduce the costs in health care. The central theme of Project 7 is the perceived health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with PD; it is investigated which factors (e.g. gait, depression, or fatigue) affect HRQoL. Which of these factors can be measured objectively with for example body fixed sensors, and to what extent do they contribute to HRQoL.
Improve treatment of supraspinal movement control deficits: Projects 8 focuses on the understanding, detection and treatment of a specific and debilitating symptom of PD; namely freezing of gait. The role of dopamine in action selection of patients with and without freezing will be analyzed which may have future implications for therapeutic strategies. Clinical studies are performed with a walk bicycle and a cue-shoe, two innovative devices with the potential to reduce or overcome freezing of gait and thereby improving the mobility and independence of PD patients. Project 9 will develop an objective and quantitative assessment of walking recovery available in the Lokomat for everyday clinical practice that can improve the diagnosis and treatment of gait disorders, allowing the execution of a personalized and symptom-specific gait therapy. A novel control algorithm has been developed in order to provide a safe framework for assessing patients with different levels of gait impairments while at the same time challenging them to perform at the best of their capacity. The amount of robotic support will be adapted to the patient’s performance providing at the same time information on the patient’s impairment in the different gait phases.
Training of fellows: Fellows were recruited from all partners within the consortium. Implemented training activities comprise the individual PhD-projects, structured doctoral training at both the fellows’ host institution and the collaborating partners. On the network level, all training activities are in time. Supervisory Board meetings took place as planned, the Moving Beyond homepage was established as a web-based teaching and reference tool.

At the end of the project we expect to have a number of well-trained young scientists. This does not only apply to the expected high-ranking PhD theses due to excellent research projects. Together with the intersectoral working experience in both academic and industrial partners, a broad-ranging scientific training enabling “thinking outside the box” and the complementary skill training, the fellows will meet the demands of the European job market.
Furthermore, we expect that improved understanding of supraspinal movement control will lead to new diagnostic approaches and tools as well as innovative treatment strategies for PD and other age-related disorders.

Apart from (i) educating fellows for the European job market, also the (ii) outreach programme should be mentioned as Moving Beyond measures to attain impact related to the society. However, the by far largest socio-economic input would eventually be achieved if Moving Beyond partners succeed to develop, improve and apply methods to specifically target basic understanding, and diagnostic and therapeutic applications of supraspinal motor control deficits. This would impact patients, care takers and patients’ families significantly, however, would certainly need another 10 years or so to reach the patients.

University of Tuebingen
Institute of Medical Genetics and Applied Genomics
Research Management
Calwerstrasse 7
72076 Tuebingen

Phone +49 7071 29 72191
Fax +49 7071 29 25061


Holm Graessner, (Research manager)
Tel.: +49 7071 2972285
Adres e-mail


Life Sciences
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