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Delays in reticulospinal system are correlated with deficits in motor learning in older adults.

Description

Motor skill acquisition, the process by which individuals practice and consolidate movement to become faster, more accurate and efficient, declines with age. Initial skill acquisition is dominated by cortical structures; however as learning proceeds, literature from rodents and songbirds suggests

Motor skill acquisition, the process by which individuals practice and consolidate movement to become faster, more accurate and efficient, declines with age. Initial skill acquisition is dominated by cortical structures; however as learning proceeds, literature from rodents and songbirds suggests that there is a transition away from cortical execution. Recent evidence indicates that the reticulospinal system plays an important role in integration and retention of learned motor skills. The brainstem has known age-rated deficits including cell shrinkage & death. Given the role of the reticulospinal system in skill acquisition and older adult’s poor capacity to learn, it begs the question: are delays in the reticulospinal system associated with older adult’s poor capacity to learn?
Our objective was to evaluate if delays in the reticulospinal system (measured via the startle reflex) are correlated to impairment of motor learning in older adults. We found that individuals with fast startle responses resembling those of younger adults show the most learning and retention of that learning while individuals with delayed startle responses show the least. Moreover, linear regression analysis indicated that startle onset latency exists within a continuum of learning outcomes suggesting that startle onset latency may be a sensitive measure to predict learning deficits in older adults. As there exists no method to determine an individual’s relative learning capacity, these results open the possibility of startle, which is an easy and inexpensive behavioral measure, being used to predict learning deficits in older adults to facilitate better dosing during rehabilitation therapy.

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Date Created
2019-05

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Investigating the Effect of Sleep Deprivation on the Startle Response

Description

Older adults tend to learn at a lesser extent and slower rate than younger individuals. This is especially problematic for older adults at risk to injury or neurological disease who require therapy to learn and relearn motor skills. There is

Older adults tend to learn at a lesser extent and slower rate than younger individuals. This is especially problematic for older adults at risk to injury or neurological disease who require therapy to learn and relearn motor skills. There is evidence that the reticulospinal system is critical to motor learning and that deficits in the reticulospinal system may be responsible, at least in part, for learning deficits in older adults. Specifically, delays in the reticulospinal system (measured via the startle reflex) are related to poor motor learning and retention in older adults. However, the mechanism underlying these delays in the reticulospinal system is currently unknown.

Along with aging, sleep deprivation is correlated with learning deficits. Research has shown that a lack of sleep negatively impacts motor skill learning and consolidation. Since there is a link between sleep and learning, as well as learning and the reticulospinal system, these observations raise the question: does sleep deprivation underlie reticulospinal delays? We hypothesized that sleep deprivation was correlated to a slower startle response, indicating a delayed reticulospinal system. Our objectives were to observe the impact of sleep deprivation on 1) the startle response (characterized by muscle onset latency and percentage of startle responses elicited) and 2) functional performance (to determine whether subjects were sufficiently sleep deprived).

21 young adults participated in two experimental sessions: one control session (8-10 hour time in bed opportunity for at least 3 nights prior) and one sleep deprivation session (0 hour time in bed opportunity for one night prior). The same protocol was conducted during each session. First, subjects were randomly exposed to 15 loud, startling acoustic stimuli of 120 dB. Electromyography (EMG) data measured muscle activity from the left and right sternocleidomastoid (LSCM and RSCM), biceps brachii, and triceps brachii. To assess functional performance, cognitive, balance, and motor tests were also administered. The EMG data were analyzed in MATLAB. A generalized linear mixed model was performed on LSCM and RSCM onset latencies. Paired t-tests were performed on the percentage of startle responses elicited and functional performance metrics. A p-value of less than 0.05 indicated significance.

Thirteen out of 21 participants displayed at least one startle response during their control and sleep deprived sessions and were further analyzed. No differences were found in onset latency (RSCM: control = 75.87 ± 21.94ms, sleep deprived = 82.06 ± 27.47ms; LSCM: control = 79.53 ± 17.85ms, sleep deprived = 78.48 ± 20.75ms) and percentage of startle responses elicited (control = 84.10 ± 15.53%; sleep deprived = 83.59 ± 18.58%) between the two sessions. However, significant differences were observed in reaction time, TUG with Dual time, and average balance time with the right leg up. Our data did not support our hypothesis; no significant differences were seen between subjects’ startle responses during the control and sleep deprived sessions. However, sleep deprivation was indicated with declines were observed in functional performance. Therefore, we concluded that sleep deprivation may not affect the startle response and underlie delays in the reticulospinal system.

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Created

Date Created
2020-05

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The Impact of a Starting Acoustic Stimulus and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Reaction Times in Unimpaired Adults

Description

Motor skill acquisition, the process by which individuals practice and consolidate
movement to become faster, more accurate and efficient, declines with age. Initial skill acquisition is dominated by cortical structures; however as learning proceeds, literature from
rodents and songbirds suggests

Motor skill acquisition, the process by which individuals practice and consolidate
movement to become faster, more accurate and efficient, declines with age. Initial skill acquisition is dominated by cortical structures; however as learning proceeds, literature from
rodents and songbirds suggests that there is a transition away from cortical execution. Recent
evidence indicates that the reticulospinal system plays an important role in integration and
retention of learned motor skills. The brainstem has known age-rated deficits including cell
shrinkage & death. Given the role of the reticulospinal system in skill acquisition and older
adult’s poor capacity to learn, it begs the question: are delays in the reticulospinal system
associated with older adult’s poor capacity to learn?
Our objective was to evaluate if delays in the reticulospinal system (measured via the
startle reflex) and corticospinal system (measured via Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) are correlated to impairment of motor learning in older adults. We found that individuals with fast startle responses resembling those of younger adults show the most improvement and retention while individuals with delayed startle responses show the least. We also found that there was no relationship between MEP latencies and improvement and retention. Moreover, linear regression analysis indicated that startle onset latency exists within a continuum of learning outcomes suggesting that startle onset latency may be a sensitive measure to predict learning deficits in older adults. As there exists no method to determine an individual’s relative learning capacity, these results open the possibility of startle, which is an easy and inexpensive behavioral measure and can be used to determine learning deficits in older adults to facilitate better dosing during rehabilitation therapy.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2020-05

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StartReact and its Effect on Functional Upper Extremity Motor Tasks

Description

The phenomenon known as startReact is the fast, involuntary execution of a planned movement triggered by a startling acoustic stimulus. StartReact has previously been analyzed in simple motor movements such as finger abduction tasks, hand grasp tasks, and elbow extension

The phenomenon known as startReact is the fast, involuntary execution of a planned movement triggered by a startling acoustic stimulus. StartReact has previously been analyzed in simple motor movements such as finger abduction tasks, hand grasp tasks, and elbow extension tasks. More complex movements have also been analyzed, but there have been limited studies that look into functional complex tasks that require end-point accuracy. The objective of this project was to assess the ability to elicit startReact in tasks that simulate activities of daily living like feeding or picking up a glass of water. We hypothesized that a startReact response would be present in complex functional tasks, but the response would not be as accurate due to the increase in speed. Five subjects performed a simulated feeding task by moving kidney beans from one target to another where the end target changed in diameter as well as, a simulated drinking task where the subject moved a cup full of beads from one target to another. The hypothesis was supported due to a significant difference between no stimulus and stimulus trials for tricep muscle onset time, duration time, and the accuracy parameters of amount of beans dropped and weight in beads dropped. The results coincided with previous studies where subjects compensated for the change in diameter by increasing reaction time as the target diameter size decreased. The data obtained contradicted a previous study in relation to the duration time between the tasks due to our smallest diameter size having a faster duration time in comparison to the other diameter sizes. This study provides preliminary data that could assist researchers and clinicians in improving physical therapy methods for patients with impaired upper extremity motor movements.

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Created

Date Created
2020-12

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Startle-evoked movement in multi-jointed, two-dimensional reaching tasks

Description

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown

Previous research has shown that a loud acoustic stimulus can trigger an individual's prepared movement plan. This movement response is referred to as a startle-evoked movement (SEM). SEM has been observed in the stroke survivor population where results have shown that SEM enhances single joint movements that are usually performed with difficulty. While the presence of SEM in the stroke survivor population advances scientific understanding of movement capabilities following a stroke, published studies using the SEM phenomenon only examined one joint. The ability of SEM to generate multi-jointed movements is understudied and consequently limits SEM as a potential therapy tool. In order to apply SEM as a therapy tool however, the biomechanics of the arm in multi-jointed movement planning and execution must be better understood. Thus, the objective of our study was to evaluate if SEM could elicit multi-joint reaching movements that were accurate in an unrestrained, two-dimensional workspace. Data was collected from ten subjects with no previous neck, arm, or brain injury. Each subject performed a reaching task to five Targets that were equally spaced in a semi-circle to create a two-dimensional workspace. The subject reached to each Target following a sequence of two non-startling acoustic stimuli cues: "Get Ready" and "Go". A loud acoustic stimuli was randomly substituted for the "Go" cue. We hypothesized that SEM is accessible and accurate for unrestricted multi-jointed reaching tasks in a functional workspace and is therefore independent of movement direction. Our results found that SEM is possible in all five Target directions. The probability of evoking SEM and the movement kinematics (i.e. total movement time, linear deviation, average velocity) to each Target are not statistically different. Thus, we conclude that SEM is possible in a functional workspace and is not dependent on where arm stability is maximized. Moreover, coordinated preparation and storage of a multi-jointed movement is indeed possible.

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Date Created
2016-12