Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - HEALTHPAC (Perception and Action in Health and Disease)

HealthPAC's mission:
With the strong growth of the ageing population, sensory-motor loss and neurodegenerative disorders will affect an increasing number of Europeans, which will have huge impact on society. HealthPAC is an integrated, international and interdisciplinary network of renowned perception-action (PAC) research labs at the Donders Institute, clinical departments at several University hospitals, and European industry, funded as a Marie-Curie FP7-PEOPLE-2013 ITN. Its mission is to understand the neural mechanisms of sensory-motor control and its disorders, and to utilize this knowledge to enhance the quality of life. HealthPAC trains 14 ESRs to become excellent PAC-scientists who: (i) set up and perform high-quality research in sensory-motor neuroscience, (ii) can translate and apply their knowledge to clinics and rehabilitation centers, and (iii) understand the processes to develop innovative products that improve the quality of life in health and disease. Students participate in research training programs, tailored to their individual interests, and are brought in intensive contact with European companies and institutes to improve and extend their future career prospects. The PAC team of the Donders Institute offers an interdisciplinary setting with unique state-of-the-art methodologies in research labs and clinical departments of eleven established neuroscientists. Associate Partners contribute relevant knowledge from the private sector by teaching ESRs about sensory-motor related product development, legal issues, management and marketing, while offering on-site research secondments.

The work performed (as per 31-12-2015):
The project started on January 1, 2014, and is well on track, with no major delays in its Milestones and Deliverables. As of January 1, 2015 all 14 ESRs had been appointed. The gender balance and diversity of the group is well guarded, as the 14 ESRs consist of 7 women and 7 men, originating from 5 different continents (Italy: 3, Iran: 2, India: 2, Egypt: 1, Argentina: 1, Spain: 1, Germany: 1, Belgium: 1, the Netherlands: 1, and USA: 1). All ESRs currently work on their research projects under supervision of their PI(s) at the Donders Institute.
In this first period (2014/2015) all ESRs received substantial training within six different categories: (i) conceptual training courses on a variety of neuroscience and science topics, which were tailored to their own preferences and backgrounds, (ii) soft-skill training courses, which enhance their communicative (verbal and written) and academic skills, (iii) Intersectoral trainings, offered by companies, on entrepreneurship, ethics, marketing issues, etc.; (iv) visits to Conferences, seminars and workshops, both locally (in the NL) and internationally (Europe and USA). (v) A 2-day visit at Neurovation, “Technological applications in Neurocognition” (6-7/10/2014, Utrecht, NL). (vi) Intensive training activities at the 3-day HealthPAC WinterSchool (January 2015), and during a highly successful 11-day International HealthPAC SummerSchool on Computational SensoriMotor Control (CoSMo), which was organised in collaboration with the Canadian-USA network on sensorimotor neuroscience (July 2015, Groesbeek, NL).
ESRs are currently planning their intersectoral Secondments with the Associated Partners of our consortium. ESR5 and ESR6 (at Philips) and ESR14 (at XSENS) performed a first secondment in 2015. The eventual choice of secondments for an ESR is made in close agreement between ESR and involved PI. After the project started, we added three new APs to our consortium to increase the number of potential secondment possibilities for our ESRs. In November 2015, Visiting Scientist prof. Bart Krekelberg from Rutgers Universtity (New Jersey; visual science) joined the HealthPAC research group at the Biophysics Department.
ESRs and PI’s have been engaged in multiple outreach activities, such as presentations of HealthPAC’s research at high-schools, and to the general public during Brain Awareness Week; they gave live demonstrations of our experimental setups and our work to the public, to lay visitors, to colleagues, and to visiting companies and clinicians.

Some main results so far:
All ESR research projects are well on their way, and the first results of all projects were presented to the Project Officer and Expert Reviewer at the Midterm Review in November 2015. Planned Milestones and Deliverables have all been met. Most ESRs currently write their first publication. Some scientific highlights from different ongoing research projects (see Figures):
- ESR10 demonstrated remarkable sound-localisation performance by bilateral Cochlear Implant users (WP3; Milestone M10)
(to be presented at ARO, San Diego, 2016).
- ESR 14 demonstrated clear effects of Time-stress on Endpoint Variability (fatigue) and Approximate Entropy in sustained typing
- ESR03 showed an interesting age-related effect on decision making in visual motion perception (WP05; presented at Gordon
Conference on Eye Movements, Boston, MA, 2015).
- ESR12 found strong response biases in perceived body tilts during linear whole-body accelerations (WP4).

Expected final results of HealthPAC:
At the end of the grant period, HealthPAC will have trained a responsible, ethically aware, and broadly trained interdisciplinary group of young researchers, who will significantly contribute to alleviate the burdens of sensory-motor impairments of our citizens. The consortium will have published over 30 peer-reviewed research papers in the sensory-motor health domain, and will have created a large international (even intercontinental) network of sensory-motor research groups, with tight and lasting contacts to European SME’s and hospitals. HealthPAC’s impact will thus by far outlast the Marie-Curie funding period, by establishing new contacts and strengthening the existing ones with novel project collaborations.

Contact: Project coordinator, prof. dr. John van Opstal,
Project website:

Attachments: PublishableSummaryHealthPAC.pdf, Project logo: HealthPAC-EU-logo.pdf, Figure with results: resultsHP.pdf

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Life Sciences
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