PhD position

Optimize muscle proprioceptive information to improve postural control

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Surprisingly, different individuals with apparently identical vestibular loss have different recovery processes. What is the reason for this difference?


The PhD project below is part of NeuroSchool’s “MD-PhD Scholarships” call, which will fund 1 scholarship among the 3 proposed projects.


STATE OF THE ART: Unilateral loss of vestibular information originating in the inner ear leads to perceptual (dizziness), oculomotor (nystagmus) and postural (loss of balance) symptoms. Vestibular compensation following this loss is a model of neuronal plasticity mainly based on sensory interactions and substitutions. Surprisingly, different individuals with apparently identical vestibular loss have different recovery processes. Some may recover fully, while others may retain balance difficulties. This phenomenon is of great scientific and clinical importance. What is the reason for this difference? This question is still unresolved. Our hypothesis is based on the idea that the alteration in postural stability is the result of an incorrect weighting of the different sensory information in the compensation process, more specifically related to poor proprioceptive feedback.

OBJECTIVES: In order to test this hypothesis, we propose a study whose aim is to test the effect of optimizing muscle proprioceptive information on postural control.

METHODS: Two methods will be used. The first is based on the application of mechanical noise to the tendons of the ankle muscles. In healthy subjects, we have shown that this type of stimulation leads to an improvement in postural control (Borel and Ribot-Ciscar, 2016). The second method consists of exercises to focus attention on illusory movements of the foot. Indeed, when the subject pays attention to the movements imposed on the ankle joint, this leads to sensitisation of the neuromuscular spindles (Ribot-Ciscar et al. 2009). The tests will be performed in patients with unilateral vestibular loss and in control subjects with no sensory impairment.

EXPECTED RESULTS: The expected results are an improvement in postural balance by increasing the weight of muscular proprioceptive information in balance, particularly in visually dependent patients who probably make little use of proprioceptive sensitivity. These results could be at the origin of a new rehabilitation method, appropriate not only after vestibular damage but also in all pathologies where the weighting of sensory information shows a deficit in the use of proprioceptive information.

FEASABILTY: Feasibility is attested by the expertise of the researchers involved in this study: Liliane Borel for vestibular compensation and sensory substitution and Edith Ribot-Ciscar for the proprioceptive modality. The study has begun. Thirty healthy subjects and thirty vestibulo-deficient patients will be included in this research.

Nature de finanement


Desired profile

French-speaking physician (to interact well with patients). The candidate should have experience in ENT or Neurology.

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