Sensorimotor Physiology Laboratory


Researchers in the Sensorimotor Physiology Laboratory investigate the physiological processes allowing humans to stand upright as well as the application of robotics and sensory approaches to probe human bipedalism as well as the sensorimotor control of the head and neck system. Specific research projects are directed to the physiological mechanisms underlying the integration of multisensory information for human movement. Direct applications of their work include the identification of neuromechanical risk factors for whiplash injuries and the related development of potential mitigation strategies. The work on whiplash injuries is performed in collaboration with MEA Forensic Engineers & Scientists in Richmond, BC.

The Sensorimotor Physiology Laboratory is equipped with feedback-controlled robots & motors, virtual reality, inversion device, ultrasonography, 3D video-oculography, motion capture, accelerometry and force systems as well as neural & physiological measurement and stimulation units. A large 6 DoF robot is also available through collaborations with the Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems and Collaborative Advanced Robotics and Intelligent Systems on the UBC campus.

Projects

  • Sensorimotor Control of Balance
  • Vestibular Physiology and Modeling
  • Neural Control of the Neck & Back Muscles
  • Whiplash Injury & Rollover Accidents

Funding:

  • NSERC
  • CIHR
  • MITACS

Affiliations:

  • Origins of Balance Deficits and Falls Research Cluster
  • Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health
  • Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS)
  • Associate Member UBC Mechanical Engineering

People

Jean-Sébastien Blouin

Education

  • Université Laval , 2004, PhD
  • Université Laval, 2001, MSc
  • Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, 1999, DC

Employment

  • Professor, School of Kinesiology, 2016
  • Associate Professor, School of Kinesiology, 2011
  • Assistant Professor, School of Kinesiology, 2006

Membership

  • Society for Neuroscience

Current Trainees

Romain Tisserand

Romain Tisserand

Romain’s research topic involves a multidisciplinary approach (combining biomechanics, behavioral neuroscience and physiology) to understand the control of human balance and the effects of ageing and pathology. Romain is particularly interested in developing a research program exploring the motor control of balance in humans in order to better detect balance deficits and improve rehabilitation or prevention procedures in clinical populations. After obtaining his PhD in Biomechanics in France where he investigated the mechanisms of balance recovery in elderly fallers following an external and unpredictable perturbation, Romain started a postdoctoral position at the University of British Columbia to investigate the mechanisms of sensorimotor control of balance following both self-generated and external balance perturbations.

Funding: MITACS Accelerate Grant, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Calvin Kuo

Calvin Kuo

Calvin is a post-doctoral researcher in Dr. Blouin's lab co-supervised with Dr. Pai in Computer Science. Calvin completed his Bachelor of Science at the California Institute of Technology in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science and his Master and Doctorate of Philosophy at Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering. His research area is in the biomechanics of the head and neck. During his PhD, Calvin modeled the head and neck during impacts to understand the mechanical role of the neck in exacerbating or mitigating head impact kinematics and subsequent brain injury. During his post-doctoral fellowship, Calvin will be exploring the sensorimotor control of the neck musculature to understand how head and neck posture is maintained and how deficits might lead to destabilization and subsequent injury.

Funding: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Jacques Abboud

Jacques Abboud

Jacques is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Sensorimotor Physiology Lab. His main areas of focus are in motor control, physiology, and neuromechanics of the trunk. His current research topic involves the neuromechanical principle as a determinant of motor unit organization in humans. Jacques completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences at the "Université de Montréal/Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières" in 2018.

Funding: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Alessio Gallina

Alessio Gallina

Alessio’s main research interest is how neuromuscular activation strategies influence force production and movement, and how this differs in pain. After completing his BSc in Physiotherapy and MSc in Italy, Alessio obtained his PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences from The University of British Columbia where his doctoral dissertation showed that activation of the human quadriceps is modulated regionally in experimental knee pain and in patellofemoral pain syndrome. As a postdoctoral fellow, Alessio is involved in a collaboration between the Sensorimotor Physiology Laboratory and MEA Forensic Engineers & Scientists to investigate vertebral kinematics and neck muscle activation in whiplash-like motion and in people with whiplash-associated disorders.

Funding: NSERC

Emma Woo

Emma Woo

Emma is a MSc student in the Sensorimotor Physiology Lab. She completed a Bachelor of Human Kinetic degree at UBC - Okanagan Campus. Emma’s research is quantifying vestibular asymmetry in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis.

Daniel Mang

Daniel Mang

For Daniel’s PhD thesis, the overall research objective of his projects is to develop an anti-whiplash seat that dynamically modifies the seat hinge rotation and seat back cushion deformation properties during a rear-end collision to reduce the risk of whiplash injury. Combining dynamic modifications of seat hinge rotation and seat back cushion deformation, we hope to create a safer car seat for all occupants to reduce the risk of whiplash injury.

Funding: CIHR/AUTO21

Geoff Mckendry

Geoff Mckendry

Geoff is a MSc student investigating a novel robotic rehabilitative tool for people living with neurological disorders that affect neural conduction times (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke). The robot that is used in his experiments was developed to allow participants to balance in a safe environment while challenging their balance control by introducing artificial delays between their motor commands and associated sensory feedback. Using these artificial delays, Geoff aims to explore how training on the robot may result in participants learning to adapt their control of standing balance. Furthermore, he seeks to determine how this may translate to real-life improvements in balance control.

Jason Fice

Jason Fice

Jason Fice is a PhD student working under Gunter Siegmund and Jean-Sébastien Blouin in the Sensorimotor Physiology Lab. His research interests include neck muscle activation and control, in order to understand and prevent whiplash injuries. The injury prevention will come through improvements to human body models with the use of the data collected in volunteers. From his research, he discovered that neck strength in 3D directions can be predicted from principal axis strengths in all directions except for combinations of ipsilateral axial rotation and lateral bending. Furthermore, on studies related to injuries caused by rear-end impacts while in non-neural postures, Jason discovered that the increased injury risk with non-neutral postures seems more likely to be associated with increased tissue strains before and during impact rather than increased muscle activity during impact.

Funding: NSERC CGSD + Mitacs Accelerate Grant

Anthony Chen

Anthony Chen

Anthony is currently a first year PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Blouin and Dr. Boushel. He previously completed a B.Kin. at UBC in 2016. His current research project involves the validation of a mathematical conversion model between electrical and real-physical motion stimuli. His main project of interest involves the neural-cardiovascular mechanisms involved in the control and maintenance of standing balance. The overall goal of this project is to explore the interplay between cardiovascular homeostasis during orthostasis and standing balance control.

Funding: Faculty of Education Entrance Scholarship

Jiyu Wang

Previous Trainees

  • Peters, Ryan – PDF (2017)
  • Rasman, Brandon Gerald – MSc (2016)
  • Rebchuk, Alex – MSc (2016)
  • Wang, Philip – MASc (2016)
  • Forbes, Patrick – PDF (2016)
  • Dalton, Brian – PDF (2014)
  • Pospisil, Eric – MASc (2014)
  • Shepherd, Myles – MSc (2014)
  • Brown, Harrison – MSc (2013)
  • Dakin, Christopher James – PhD (2012)
  • Luu, Billy – PDF (2012)
  • Huryn, Thomas – MASc (2012)
  • Héroux, Martin – PDF (2011)
  • Law, Tammy Che-Yan – MSc (2011)
  • Mang, Daniel – MSc (2010)

Selected Publications

  1. Fice JB, Siegmund GP, Blouin JS. Neck muscle biomechanics and neural control. J Neurophysiol. 2018;
  2. Gallina A, Blouin JS, Ivanova TD, Garland SJ. Regionalization of the stretch reflex in the human vastus medialis. J Physiol (Lond). 2017;595(14):4991-5001.
  3. Horslen BC, Inglis JT, Blouin JS, Carpenter MG. Both standing and postural threat decrease Achilles’ tendon reflex inhibition from tendon electrical stimulation. J Physiol (Lond). 2017;595(13):4493-4506.
  4. Mildren RL, Peters RM, Hill AJ, Blouin JS, Carpenter MG, Inglis JT. Frequency characteristics of human muscle and cortical responses evoked by noisy Achilles tendon vibration. J Appl Physiol. 2017;122(5):1134-1144.
  5. Dalton BH, Rasman BG, Inglis JT, Blouin JS. The internal representation of head orientation differs for conscious perception and balance control. J Physiol (Lond). 2017;595(8):2731-2749.
  6. Forbes PA, Vlutters M, Dakin CJ, Van der kooij H, Blouin JS, Schouten AC. Rapid limb-specific modulation of vestibular contributions to ankle muscle activity during locomotion. J Physiol (Lond). 2017;595(6):2175-2195.
  7. Forbes PA, Luu BL, Van der loos HF, Croft EA, Inglis JT, Blouin JS. Transformation of Vestibular Signals for the Control of Standing in Humans. J Neurosci. 2016;36(45):11510-11520.
  8. Wang P, Forbes PA, Croft EA, Machiel van der loos HF, Blouin JS. Shifting the balance of human standing: Inter-limb coordination for the control of a robotic balance simulation. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2015;2015:7582-5.
  9. Dakin CJ, Héroux ME, Luu BL, Inglis JT, Blouin JS. Vestibular contribution to balance control in the medial gastrocnemius and soleus. J Neurophysiol. 2016;115(3):1289-97.
  10. Horslen BC, Dakin CJ, Inglis JT, Blouin JS, Carpenter MG. CrossTalk proposal: Fear of falling does influence vestibular-evoked balance responses. J Physiol (Lond). 2015;593(14):2979-81.

Opportunities

Please contact Dr. Jean-Sébastien Blouin (jsblouin [AT] mail.ubc.ca) if interested in inquiring about graduate supervision, volunteer opportunities, or to participate as a subject in one of our ongoing studies.

Contact Us

Office address:
D. H. Copp Building, Room 3003A
2146 Health Sciences Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3

Mailing address:
War Memorial Gymnasium, Room 210
6081 University Boulevard
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

604–827–3372
jsblouin [at] mail.ubc.ca