Neural Plasticity Lab
Neuroplasticity is the ability of brains to adapt to new experiences and constraints of the environment during the entire life-span. The Neural Plasticity Lab at the Institut für Neuroinformatik at the Ruhr-University in Bochum studies functional, integrative and cognitive neuroscience with the main focus on neuronal plasticity, learning and aging.
We aim to understand
- factors that drive learning processes
- the role of use-dependent
plasticity under everyday-life conditions
relation between brain plasticity and behavior
Current projects in the Neural Plasticity Lab
Plasticity / Learning
Brain plasticity is the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences. As we learn, we acquire new knowledge and skills through instruction or experience. In order to learn or memorize a fact or skill, there must be persistent functional changes in the brain that represent the new knowledge. The ability of the brain to change with learning is what is known as neuroplasticity.
We witness a unique restructuring of the aging pattern in the societies of the industrial nations, characterized by an increasing probability to reach old age. This calls for a more comprehensive understanding of the different facets of aging. In this scenario, the preservation of every-day life competence of aged populations becomes increasingly important for maintaining an independent life style at old age.
The sense of touch - the most underestimated sense. What is its role and relevance in a world largly governed by visual media? What makes it different from other senses? We study properties and particularities of tactile perception to facilitate understanding of both neural tactile processing and of "haptic design" principles.
Special: Dance - creating enriched environmental conditions for human individuals.
Compared to activities such as physical exercising or playing an instrument, dance comprises – beyond requirements for physical activity, rhythmic motor coordination, balance and memory – emotions, affection, social interaction, acoustic stimulation, and musical experience. This unique property, leading to a general acceptance and high compliance, is a powerful determinant for an ideal intervention in the elderly.
Special: Stroke rehabilitation
Utilizing the knowledge about brain plasticity accumulated over the last years, we suggested that specific stimulation protocols can be designed through which it becomes feasible to change purposefully brain organization and thus perception and behavior, thereby ameliorating sensorimotor impairment in stroke patients.
Posture analysis with STABLE
Clinical scales, in addition to tests of stance and reach, are often used to rate balance performance. Functional assessments of this type have the advantage that they can be quickly applied and rarely require expensive equipment but they often lack a more detailed rating of impairment. By contrast, posturography is used to measure and quantify postural sway by assessing COP deflections. Force platforms are the gold standard for posture assessment as they exceed many other techniques concerning reliability and simplicity of their design. Recently Clark and coworkers compared COP-data obtained with a Wii Balance Board with a laboratory-grade force platform and reported a high test- retest reliability of the Wii Board for COP assessment in young subjects (Clark et al., 2010).