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Research domains Center of Human Movement Sciences

In the educational programmes (MSc Human Movement Sciences & Msc Sport Sciences) the research is organized in three domains, which also guide part of the teaching, for example the final project (which incorporates the research internship) in the second year of the Master's degree programmes.

 Core concepts and general principles of the research and teaching programmes are brain and behaviour, learning and development, change and recovery, and flexibility and adaptation, healthy ageing and, performance optimisation.

Five key research themes have been identified:
- Perceptual-motor mechanisms underpinning gait, balance and fall prevention
- Influence of physical activity on cognition, and physical and mental fitness
- Characteristics of performance & expertise
- Optimisation & functional recovery
- Motor learning, development & neuromuscular control of perceptual motor skills

Examples of research questions are:
- What are the perceptual-motor mechanisms underlying learning and coordination of movement?
- How is the neuromotor system organised to perform goal-directed movements?
- Which measuring instruments are most reliable in the identification of movement disorders?
- What is the relationship between cognition, sport and movement?

Related to the educational programmes the research is organised in three main lines:

Rehabilitation and Functional Recovery
Research in this domain focuses on aspects of diagnosis, adaptive technologies, treatment and assessment of children and adults with performance disabilities that hinder normal motor development and day-to-day functioning.
Topics studied within this domain include:
- Children with DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder) and adults who need to relearn motor skills after a stroke or other impairment of the cognitive/sensorimotor system
- Recovery of normal skills levels after a stroke or paraplegia
- The limits of loadability and daily load bearing in children with chronic conditions such as cerebral palsy and DCD
- The development of ambulant registration techniques and objective parameters of function, activity and recovery in chronic movement disorders
- Sensorimotor adaptation processes during the rehabilitation of people with an artificial arm or leg or when learning to operate an arm-drive wheelchair
- The role of visual-perceptual information during gait, running and ADL (activities of daily living) in people with and without motor disabilities
- The influence of fatigue on recovery during rehabilitation in adaptive sports
- The role of functional capacities in people with a physical disability returning to the workplace

Students can undertake research projects in BWG’s research laboratories, in the UMCG Centre for Rehabilitation and with BWG’s cooperation partners in rehabilitation and health care.

Motor Function and Cognition in Healthy Ageing
This domain studies the psychological, physiological and social consequences of movement, in particular the relationship between movement, lifestyle, and the physical and mental condition and resilience of elderly people.
Topics studied within this domain include:
- Effects of physical activity and inactivity on cognitive and mental processes (e.g. attention, memory)
- The relationship between movement and diseases such as dementia, stroke and Parkinson’s disease
- The relationship between pain, cognition and movement
- Falling in the elderly: predicting individual fall risks and developing preventive exercise programmes

Student research projects within this domain are usually conducted on-site in nursing homes and/or geriatric wards of hospitals, residential facilities for the elderly or individual homes.

Sports, Learning and Performance
This domain concerns the relationship between the physical and mental determinants of learning and achievement in recreational and professionals sports, and ways to influence these determinants.
Topics studied within this domain include:
- Talent in general and in sports: what is it, how can it be recognized and what are the conditions for optimum development
- The relationship between motor, perceptual, cognitive and mental processes in individual and team sports
- What influence does physical (in)activity have on a child’s motor and cognitive development?
- How can we analyse and optimize (match) performance in sports?
- What is the role of perception in expert performance?

Student research projects within this domain are conducted within professional sports organizations such as NOC*NSF, sports federations, TNO Sport and professional sports clubs.

The research of the Center for Human Movement Sciences is embedded in the KNAW-acknowledged research school SHARE (Science of Healthy Ageing and healthcaRE). For more information visit the following websites:

Research programme Smart Movements: www.rug.nl/research/share/research/programmes/smart-movements

Research institute SHARE: www.umcg.nl/EN/research/institutesprogrammes/share/programmes/paginas/smart.aspx