ISM - UMR 7287

Institute of Movement Sciences: Etienne-Jules MAREY

Director : Eric Berton

CC910 – 163, avenue de Luminy
13288 Marseille Cedex 09

The Institute of Movement Sciences (ISM): Etienne-Jules MAREY is a Mixed Research Unit (UMR) jointly run by the Aix-Marseille University (AMU) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) through the Institute for Biological Sciences (INSB), which acts as the pilot institute for:

  • the Institute for Engineering and System Sciences (INSIS),
  • the Institute for Human and Social Sciences (INSHS),
  • and the Institute of Information Sciences and their Interactions (INS2I).

The institute is active on multiple AMU locations: the Luminy campus, Sainte Marguerite Hospital, Timone Hospital and the Institute of Technology in Aix-en-Provence.
The ISM is a multi-disciplinary laboratory whose research focuses on the study of movement from different scientific angles. Its main research area is the study and modelling of human movement. The laboratory project is to develop an inter-disciplinary approach to study the mechanical, physiological, neurophysiological, psychological and sociological determinants of the motricity of living beings, in particular Humans.
The ISM possesses 5 state-of-the-art technology platforms:

  1. the Mediterranean Virtual Reality Centre (CRVM), a reputed resource centre for scientific and industrial applications of the human movement study using interactive immersive techniques,
  2. the Aix-en-Provence Technology Platform, which promotes innovation and technology transfer in the field of (bio)mechanics,
  3. the Mediterranean flight arena (AVM), which builds for research in biorobotics
  4. TechnoSport, which combines high-level sports with scientific research to enhance athletes’ performance, but also to gain insights into more vulnerable populations (the obese, the elderly) with a view to improving health and quality of life,
  5. the MacanoBio platform, which enables mechanical characterization tests to be carried out on all types of materials, biomaterials or biological materials.

The ISM works with various competitiveness clusters. Its research is supported by long-term corporate partnerships through university chairs (with Oxylane in the sports equipment industry, with PSA in the automotive industry and with Eurocopter in the aerospace industry).
The ISM is organized in 9 research teams and 2 transversal axes aiming to develop interdisciplinary research projects where the teams intersect.
The ISM employs around 160 people with 80 permanent staff, including 15 CNRS researchers.


Research teams

The ISM is organized in 9 research teams and 2 transversal axes aiming to develop interdisciplinary research projects at the intersection of the teams. These teams are all working on movement. The research of the “Plasticity of Nervous and Muscular Systems” team focuses on neuroscience.

Plasticity of Nervous and Muscular Systems (Patrick DECHERCHI)

The team “Plasticity of Muscular and Nervous Systems” (PSNM) realizes its researches in the fields of Biology and Health and more precisely in Neurobiology and Physiology. It studies movement in humans and animals, under normal conditions (in young, adult and old subjects), after physical exercise (acute or chronic), induced fatigue or a rehabilitation protocol, after ligament or tendon lesion, after induced osteoarthritis followed by arthroplasty and after lesion of the nervous system (spinal cord injury, peripheral nerve injury…). Its expertise relates to the systems involved in movement production. More precisely, its research focuses on the plasticity of motor, respiratory and cardiovascular neural networks and muscle adjustments activated during movement. Its aim is to improve the fundamental understanding of the neural networks but also to open up land for clinical application with regards to nervous system repair. The team has expertise in physiology and neurophysiology, especially regarding the processing and interpretation of electrophysiological signals from electroneurographic, electromyographic and electrocardiographic recordings or ventilation data. It also has expertise in the kinematic analysis of movement and locomotor behavior.


Members: Patrick DECHERCHI, Tanguy MARQUESTE, Jean-Michel BREZUN. Total: 3 HDRs.

Research axes:

  • The role of the sensorimotor loop in movement and motor performance.
  • Post-traumatic plasticity.
  • Functional rehabilitation.

Techniques :

  • Electrophysiology (in vivo, on animals)
  • Animal surgery, stereotaxy
  • Movement or posture analysis, electromyography (EMG)

Keywords : spinal cord, peripheral nerve, muscle, injury, repair, ehabilitation

Disorders of the nervous system - Excitability, synaptic transmission, network functions - Motor systems
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