Physiology Brownbag Seminars – Spring 2019

Physiology “brown-bag” lunchtime seminars are held twice a month on WEDNESDAYS at noon in Applied Physiology Building, room 1253 (or as indicated). Special seminar dates/times outside of the regular schedule are indicated as such.

Contact Dr. Boris Prilutsky,, to be considered as a future speaker, added to the e-mail distribution list, if you would like to meet with a speaker, or for other seminar-related inquiries.
For directions: Applied Physiology

SEMINAR: Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Idiopathic toe walking: Assessment, treatment, and what parents and health professionals want us to know

Cylie Williams , PhD
School of Primary and Allied Health Care, Monash University
Peninsula Health, Allied Health, Australia


This presentation will provide the latest research on the diagnosis and assessment of treatment outcomes for idiopathic toe walking (ITW). It will also summarise the evidence supporting different treatments and how different health professionals use this evidence in their treatment pathways. Lastly, it will tell stories from parents of children with ITW in the USA and Australia about their treatment pathways and what they really want health professionals to know about about this challenging diagnosis.


BIO: Associate Professor Cylie Williams is a senior research fellow at Monash University, Australia. She is one of the leading researchers in idiopathic toe walking and has led cohort studies and investigations to better understand this gait condition. Cylie is also the Allied Health Research Health at Peninsula Health where she supports clinicians in their research and undertakes large clinical trials in implementation research.

Host: Kinsey Herrin
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Location: Applied Physiology Building (555 14th Street NW, 30318), Room 1253

SEMINAR: Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Locomotor recovery after complete spinal cord injury does not require task-specific training

Alain Frigon, PhD
Department of Pharmacology-Physiology
Université de Sherbrooke


After complete spinal cord injury (SCI), adult cats recover hindlimb locomotion after a few weeks of treadmill training. This recovery is due to the presence of a spinal locomotor central pattern generator (CPG), which is thought to be reactivated by sensory feedback from the moving legs. One of the central tenets of motor rehabilitation is that training must be task specific. However, as the locomotor CPG is present at birth, we hypothesized that task-specific training is not required to restore locomotion after complete SCI. To test this hypothesis, we investigated whether providing non-task-specific training in the form of rhythmic manual stimulation of the triceps surae muscles restored hindlimb locomotion after complete SCI in cats. Twelve adult cats (>10 months) were divided into three groups and implanted with electrodes to chronically record muscle activity (EMG, electromyography). After collecting data in the intact state, we transected the spinal cord at low thoracic levels. Group 1 received rhythmic manual stimulation of the triceps surae muscles, Group 2 received traditional treadmill training while Group 3 received no treatment. Cats in all three groups recovered full body weight support during standing one week after SCI. Six weeks after SCI, cats in all groups performed full weight bearing hindlimb locomotion from 0.1 to 0.8 m/s. The results indicate that the recovery of hindlimb locomotion after complete SCI does not require task-specific training and is partly spontaneous, consistent with the hypothesis that the spinal cord produces locomotion as its default pattern.

BIO: Dr. Alain Frigon has a broad background in neuroscience and kinesiology, with specific expertise in spinal cord neurophysiology and locomotor control. For the past 15 years, his research has focused on the neural control of rhythmic movements (arm cycling, locomotion and scratching) and on neurophysiological changes that take place after spinal cord or peripheral nerve injury. He received experimental training in motor control in humans (E. Paul Zehr) and with the cat model in three different laboratories that use complementary preparations, including in vivo recordings in awake behaving cats (Serge Rossignol), intracellular/extracellular recordings in curarized decerebrate cats (Jean-Pierre Gossard) and electromyography and force recordings in immobilized decerebrate cats (Charles J. Heckman). His lab currently uses a range of experimental techniques to study the control of movement in the cat and is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Host: Boris I. Prilutsky
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Location: Applied Physiology Building (555 14th Street NW, 30318), Room 1253


SEMINAR: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Role of Proprioceptive Feedback in Mouse Locomotion

Turgay Akay, PhD
Department of Medical Neuroscience
Dalhousie University


To generate locomotor behavior, the nervous system must precisely regulate the timing and the strength (locomotor pattern) of multiple flexor and extensor muscle contractions controlling movement at the three joints of the hindlimb. These locomotor patterns are generated by the combined actions of a network of interconnected interneurons within the spinal cord (the central pattern generator) and sensory feedback from the periphery, but how these two components are integrated and collectively act to control movement remain obscure. Using an interdisciplinary approach including mouse genetics, in vivo electrophysiology, motion analysis, and computational methods, I will discuss recent findings in my laboratory addressing the role of proprioceptive sensory feedback in locomotor pattern generation.

BIO: Turgay Akay completed an undergraduate degree in fisheries engineering at Süleyman Demirel University in Turkey. His interest in animal behaviour led him back to Germany, where he was born, to pursue a diploma degree in biology at the University of Bielefeld and a PhD at the University of Cologne’s Institute for Zoology. His PhD thesis addressed the role of sensory feedback in interjoint coordination in insect walking. Upon completing his PhD in 2002, Dr. Akay re-located to North America. Following postdoctoral stints at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Michael Nusbaum and University of Alberta with Dr. Keir Pearson, Dr. Akay made the move to Columbia University, where he worked with Dr. Tom Jessell and later became an associate research scientist at Columbia’s Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease. Already a long-time collaborator with Dalhousie’s motor neuron researchers, Dr. Akay made the move to Halifax in 2014 to join the Department of Medical Neuroscience as an Assistant Professor.

Host: Boris I. Prilutsky
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Location: Applied Physiology Building (555 14th Street NW, 30318), Room 1253