PERFORM Centre Research Week examines advancements in technology and tools for prevention
From measuring sleep and physical activity to exploring new portable possibilities in health assessment, Concordia’s PERFORM Centre Research Week looks at the ever-evolving world of technology and health.
From May 14 to 18, researchers, practitioners, students and the general public will descend on the Loyola Campus for training sessions and methodology talks dedicated to the use of technology in health research.
The event kicks off with two days of training on software dedicated to Electro-Encephalography (EEG) and Functional Near Infra-Red Spectroscopy (fNIRS) analysis. Both sessions are sponsored by the Quebec Bio-Imaging Network.
The itinerary also includes a series of methodology talks related to advanced methods for studying the brain in motion and movement disorders.
A conference component
On Thursday, May 17, the 5th Annual PERFORM Centre Research Conference will bring local and international researchers from various disciplines and institutions together for presentations on subjects related to sleep, gait and mobility, and body-worn sensors.
Previous editions of the conference attracted hundreds of participants and explored topics such as multidisciplinary approaches to physical activity and aging, bioimaging for prevention and health research, and lifestyle influences on health. This year’s theme — for both the week and the conference — is Technology and Health.
Karen Li, chair of the PERFORM committee that organizes the conference, says this year’s topic is timely given how technology and its use has become an important consideration for health researchers worldwide.
“The advent of personal monitoring devices — for exercise, diet, sleep and more — has enabled more awareness and facilitated objective monitoring of lifestyle and behaviour,” says Li, who is also a professor in Concordia’s Department of Psychology.
“An important avenue is how portable monitoring devices allow researchers to assess everyday behaviour in-situ, to attain more naturalistic measures of health behaviours and indicators.”
The list of internationally-renowned speakers at the conference includes: Rachel Colley (Statistics Canada), Daniel Ferris (University of Florida), Martina Mancini (Oregon Health and Science University), Anat Mirelman (Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre), Adam Spira (Johns Hopkins University) and Miriam Vollenbroek-Hutten (University of Twente).
Sixty students will also display poster presentations.
Najmeh Khalili-Mahani will chair the conference’s third session on body-worn sensors. A scientist at PERFORM, Khalili-Mahani is an expert in the use of neuroimaging to assess the impact of drugs and stress in brain.
Her research involves translating knowledge about the neuronal networks that regulate learning and adaptation in order to develop gaming-related monitoring tools for pain management and active living in older adults.
“New technologies help individuals to self-monitor and become more mindful about their mental and physical well-being”, says Khalili-Mahani.
“They also present an opportunity for the users to collaborate with researchers on gathering data in real life situations as opposed to in a laboratory. Our challenge is to design user friendly solutions and to validate, standardize and optimize these measuring techniques and algorithms with attention to individual preferences and needs.”
The week will close with a private networking event May 18 for entrepreneurs and researchers to meet, discuss their work, and foster new connections and collaborations.
“All of these activities are in line with the multidisciplinary work happening right now at PERFORM,” says Li.
“Our dedicated faculty and staff have built a strong and solid foundation on which to create links between research programs, educational opportunities and community outreach. This integrated, whole approach — especially when paired with technological advancements — will serve as a roadmap for the future of preventive health.”
PERFORM Centre Research Week takes place May 14 to 18 on the Loyola Campus. All events are free and most are open to the public.