Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


PACE Report Summary

Project ID: 642961
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PACE (Perception and Action in Complex Environments)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2017-03-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Each of us possesses an intuitive representation of what it means to drive a car in a busy street of the city centre, to catch a ball in a crowded playground, or simply to get dressed while maintaining proper balance. Although these actions appear effortless, they rely upon a complex chain of operations from sensory through motor signals and this is not yet understood. Moreover, when one or many brain areas involved in these operations are severely perturbed, after a stroke for instance, these complex cognitive operations are disorganized leading to important motor handicaps with a strong impact on the quality of life. Recent technological developments allow investigating human movement control in naturalistic environments using virtual reality displays and robotic devices in both healthy volunteers and patients. These technologies pave the way for a better transfer of knowledge from fundamental to clinical research in order to design more effective and faster rehabilitation protocols.
The PACE (Perception and Action in Complex Environments) research and training programme sits at the interface between basic science, technology and clinics, in order to unveil how humans control and adapt their movements in complex, naturalistic environments.
Such a research agenda has major consequences for understanding how these movements are impacted by specific brain insults and how these impairments can be compensated for via new rehabilitation methods. Improving rehabilitation programmes for sensory and motor disabilities across the lifespan is a major societal challenge in Western countries and many obstacles need to be overcome. New technologies, such as robotics or virtual reality, offer exciting opportunities in the perspective to transfer state-of-the-art knowledge from basic research on sensorimotor transformation into the clinical domain. PACE will also promote the transfer of innovative, human-centered technologies between laboratories and clinical units, which is crucial to modernise and rationalise Health Care systems. To meet the societal challenge of European aging societies, it is crucial to train a new generation of researchers in a programme such as PACE where fundamental and applied/clinical research are effectively integrated via collaborative research, doctoral secondments and theoretical courses – in other words, one in which clinicians, neuroscientists, theoreticians and engineers can contribute around a well-defined problem: how humans acquire, lose and recover movement performance.
The PACE programme involves:
• 14 PhD fellowships with a duration of 36 months, starting in Autumn 2015, and 2 PhD fellowships with a duration of 18 months
• Opportunities for PACE fellows’ mobility through secondments at partner institutions
• A training programme open to non-PACE fellows from the different host institutions
With more than 50 researchers belonging to 10 full and 5 associated partners, from both academia and private sector, established in 7 different European and Associated countries, the PACE network gathers a broad range of expertise from experimental psychology, cognitive neurosciences, brain imaging, technology and clinical sciences.
You can find further information on the project, on PACE website:

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Following the signature of the Grant Agreement by all parties, the project PACE officially started on 1st April 2015 followed by a kick-off meeting that took place on 17th April 2015 in Marseille, in the presence of the scientific coordination team and all beneficiaries. Shortly after the kick-off meeting, the Network began the recruitment of a project manager (EPM) and of 15 early stage researchers (ESRs).
The Network had so far held three Network Meetings, including the kick-off and two Thematic Workshops. The first PACE Thematic Workshop (TW1) took place in Marseille on 26 -29 January 2016 at the Institut de Neurosciences de la Timone (CNRS – INT) and was organized around the topic was “Making sense of a rich world: multimodal integration in complex environments ”. Following TW1, the first Network Meeting (NM1) took place 22-25 May 2016 in Amsterdam, hosted by the partner Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU). The second Thematic Workshop (TW2) entitled “Active inference: Bayesian modelling of perception, action and the brain” took place in Lyon from 12 to 14 October 2016, and was organized in collaboration with the “Labex Cortex”. The second Network Meeting (NM2) took place on 20-22 February 2017 in Barcelona, hosted by the partner Universitat de Barcelona (UB), and coincided with the mid-term review meeting.
In parallel, the training committee launched two e-learning modules. E-learning has been used to introduce students to specific research and transferable skills that are usually not available in individual training sites. The objective was also to contribute to shape a shared uniform background for all of the ESRs and to prepare them for the Thematic Workshops and Network Meetings.
The coordination team appointed an independent ethics advisor who has since reviewed the first local ethics consent for all on-going experiments.
Some ESRs have already started their secondments and two of them have already published their first article reporting their experimental results. Most of the ESRs are now running experiments to collect data in order to publish articles and prepare the writing of their thesis next year. These results have been presented by ESRs in several international conferences.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

As the two WorkPackages WP1 and WP2 are devoted respectively to basic and applied research, the main foreseen impact is through communication to national and international conferences and publications. Several ESRs have presented their results in a broad range of international conferences in Psychology, Neurosciences, Human Movement Sciences or Rehabilitation Medicine. Two ESRs have already published their first results in international peer-reviewed journals and several other articles are in preparation.
PACE researchers have now one year experience at the host institutions and, for many of them, they are now in contact with undergraduate students doing short-term internships. They contribute to their laboratory training.
Concerning WP3 (training), Thematic Workshops 1 and 2 were open to a larger public and benefited respectively the Neuroscience community in Marseille and Lyon. Other students and neuroscientists were able to attend. The PACE network was further exposed to publicity. For example, PhD Students from Aix-Marseille University (AMU) and the Neuroscience community in Marseille attended TW1 and had the opportunity to exchange ideas with internationally known scientists from their field.
Another positive aspect of the thematic workshops was the cohesion it created among the ESRs. They have organized discussion groups and communicate regularly among themselves via the Facebook group to share research material and news about scientific events.
Tools developed in PACE beneficiary institutions such as the E-learning platform and the INT Cloud benefit other local researchers and students in addition to the ensemble of the network’s participants. E-learning classes were open to other students from institutions of the consortium. Both PACE principal investigators involved and ESRs took care of informing other fellow students.

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