A report from the Cognition, Action and Sensorimotor Plasticity (CAPS) Unit in Dijon. Join us for a tour of a laboratory that places movement at the heart of health.

In Dijon, things are on the move! The Cognition, Action and Sensorimotor Plasticity (CAPS) Unit, which obtained the Inserm label in 2003, has a sole objective: to study the movement of humans and small animals in all its forms. However, it must be understood that movement is not just about moving one's limbs: the process begins well before this. Movements are planned in the brain and then transformed into motor commands that propagate along the neurons to reach the muscles that will carry them out. In this laboratory, the scientists analyze and model normal and pathological movements in their entirety. "If someone suffers from osteoarthritis, for example, we can't just focus on their joints: we need to look at how the entire chain, from the brain to the muscles, is affected," explains the Director of the Unit, Charalambos Papaxanthis. The cherry on the cake? Solutions which complement clinical treatments and preserve the functional movement's chain of command, even during convalescence.

  • Capture en 3D des mouvements avec dispositif sans fil en laboratoire sur un volontaire, capteurs réfléchissants les infrarouges envoyés par les caméras pour l'enregistrement de l'activité électrique des muscles et des forces exercées au sol.
    In the laboratory, a wireless system captures the movements of a volunteer in 3D. Sensors reflect the infrared light transmitted by the cameras to record the electrical activity of the muscles and forces exerted on the floor. The scientists analyze and model normal and pathological movements in their entirety. Inserm Research Unit 1093 Cognition, Action and Sensorimotor Plasticity (CAPS), Etienne-Jules Marey Institute, Inserm University of Burgundy, University Hospital of Dijon.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Professeur Charalambos Papaxanthis, Directeur de l'unité de recherche Inserm U1093 Cognition, Action et Plasticité Sensori-motrice (CAPS)
    Dijon has long been a city on the move: in the 19th century, Étienne-Jules Marey, a native of the region, was the first to perform chronophotography, a technique used to study movement aided by a succession of images, such as those shown in the background. The institute which houses the CAPS is also named after him. Charalambos Papaxanthis (in the foreground) has taken the helm. His motto? "Movement is the sign of life!"
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Dispositifs sans fil en laboratoire sur un volontaire, capteurs réfléchissants les infrarouges envoyés par les caméras pour l'enregistrement de l'activité électrique des muscles et des forces exercées au sol.
    Wireless devices have revolutionized the study of movement, making it possible to move freely in all directions. The blue electrodes record the electrical activity of the muscles. The markers (gray spheres) send an infrared signal and transmit information about the movement.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Les caméras infrarouges, disposées en cercle autour d'un volontaire captent le signale envoyé par les marqueurs qu'il porte sur ses articulations.
    On the screen, 3D modeling of the body in motion is possible through the acquisition of data on the movement, speed, and acceleration of the various parts of the body.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Sur l'écran, modélisation 3D du corps en mouvement.
    The infrared cameras, arranged in a circle around Nicolas Gueugneau, postdoctoral researcher, capture the signal sent by the markers that he wears on his joints. Wireless electrodes record the electrical activity of his muscles (electromyography). In the center, a force platform (in blue) captures the pressure exerted on the floor.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Grâce à une stimulation magnétique appliquée au niveau du cortex moteur, le chercheur déclenche un mouvement chez le sujet volontaire, enregistré via des électrodes posé sur la cuisse
    Using magnetic stimulation applied to the motor cortex, Romuald Lepers, teacher and researcher, triggers movements in Nicolas, recorded via electrodes placed on the thigh. The force developed by the muscles is measured using an isokinetic ergometer (white-colored machine).
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Evaluation de la fonction neuromusculaire en laboratoire sur un sujet volontaire, un angle précis est appliqué à l'articulation au niveau du genou pour enregistrer via des électrodes sur la cuisse.
    The joint is positioned at a specific angle, a condition necessary for the patient to perform an isometric contraction, such as that involved when trying to lift a heavy object without being able to move it: when the muscle contracts, the joint does not move and the angle is maintained.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Sur l'écran une main apparaît sous différent angles de vue. Une chercheuse, sollicite une patiente, elle doit indiquer s'il s'agit d'une main droite ou gauche.
    On the screen, a hand is shown from various angles: Elisabeth Sciora, a 71-year-old patient, is required to say whether it is a left or right hand. To do this, she has to mentally turn the hand around in her head. For Célia Ruffino, who is doing her Ph.D. thesis in the unit, it is an indirect way of engaging the regions of the cortex dedicated to motor function when there is a weakening of this function.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Sur l'écran il faut remettre dans l'ordre les images représentant les étapes successives pour se relever d'une chute.
    Arranging in the right order a series of images that represent the stages involved in getting up after a fall enables an elderly person to assimilate what to do should this ever happen to them. Behind this exercise: the probable existence of "mirror neurons", which activate the same neural circuits when we observe a scene as when we carry it out. The serious game makes it possible to activate the circuit in question and improve mobility.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Cette machine les scientifiques analysent les capacités d'adaptation sensorimotrice.
    To see the world in 3D: the head is positioned facing two divergent mirrors, each reflecting the image of one of the two screens placed on either side of Jérémie Gaveau, teacher and researcher. His mission? Use a handle, which is linked to a computer system, to move a cursor to try to target the image of a small sphere shown on the screens. Easy? Not quite, because the handle can unexpectedly exert resistance! The scientists analyze his motor adaptation abilities according to the reaction time required for Jérémie to adapt his movement.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François
  • Le volontaire place sa tête face à deux miroirs divergents.
    To see the world in 3D: the head is positioned facing two divergent mirrors, each reflecting the image of one of the two screens placed on either side of Jérémie Gaveau, teacher and researcher. His mission? Use a handle, which is linked to a computer system, to move a cursor to try to target the image of a small sphere shown on the screens. Easy? Not quite, because the handle can unexpectedly exert resistance! The scientists analyze his motor adaptation abilities according to the reaction time required for Jérémie to adapt his movement.
    © Inserm/Guénet, François

The laboratory’s core targets? Frail individuals whose mobility is threatened and top athletes. In the CAPS, there is no such thing as borders: researchers specialized in physical and sporting activities rub shoulders with mouse-model brain-plasticity physiologists and clinicians from university hospital departments such as geriatrics, rheumatology, orthopedics, neurology, psychiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation… Join us for a tour of a laboratory that places movement at the heart of health.

*Inserm/Université de Bourgogne – University Hospital of Dijon Unit 1093.

Find the report in issue 37 of Science&Santé magazine (in French)