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Research Conference


Conference Program

Schedule of presentations at the conference

Scientific Program

Below is the conference itinerary. Please note that changes may be made up until the day of the conference.

07:45 - 08:15 Registration and light breakfast Foyer of Oscar Peterson Hall
08:15 - 08:30 Opening of conference,   Dr. Louis Bherer, Associate Scientific Director, PERFORM Centre
Welcome remarks,   Justin Powlowski, Interim VP Research and Graduate Studies
Session 1
8:30 - 8:35
Chair: Karen Li
Opening remarks
Oscar Peterson Hall
08:35 - 09:20 Kirk Erickson
"Aging, Exercise and Brain Plasticity"
A growing body of evidence from neuroscience, epidemiology, and kinesiology suggests that physical activity is effective for preventing, delaying, and potentially treating neurocognitive problems throughout the lifespan. Despite the emerging recognition of physical activity as a powerful method to enhance brain health, there is continued confusion from both the public and scientific communities about what the extant research has discovered about the potential for physical activity to improve neurocognitive health and which questions remain unanswered. From this perspective, I will discuss the current research on exercise, fitness, and brain health and focus on several potential moderators of the effects of exercise on neurocognitive function. I will conclude that physical activity decreases the risk for brain diseases and disorders, ameliorates symptoms, improves function, and increases regional brain volume - especially in the frontal cortex and hippocampus - and that we are beginning to have a better understanding of the factors that moderate and mediate these associations. Overall, physical activity is an important modifiable lifestyle that carries significant consequences for learning, memory, and brain health for people of all ages.
09:20 - 10:05 Claudia Voelcker-Rehage
"Physical Activity to Enhance Cognitive, Motor and Brain Plasticity in Older Adults"
The importance of physical activity for the improvement and preservation of cognitive abilities has repeatedly been examined. The approaches in these studies vary and the underlying mechanisms are still not clear. Most exercise paradigms have utilized cardiovascular exercise, also referred to as aerobic or cardiorespiratory exercise, where highly automated movements like walking or cycling are performed. Physical activity, however, is manifold. Unlike cardiorespiratory exercise, coordination training comprises exercises for fine and gross motor body coordination such as balance, eye-hand coordination, leg-arm coordination as well as spatial orientation and reaction to moving objects/persons. In my talk, I will provide an overview on studies investigating effects of different types of exercise on cognition and brain in older adults. Further I will discuss effects and associations of physical activity and exercise on motor performance and motor learning. Biological and physiological mechanisms that might link physical activity and exercise to brain function and biological processes, and dose-response relationships will be also reviewed.
10:05 - 10:50 Coffee break for all registrants and Poster Viewing * Loyola Chapel
Session 2
10:50 - 10:55
Chair: Najmeh Khalili-Mahani
Opening remarks
Oscar Peterson Hall
10:55 - 11:40 Catrine Tudor-Locke
"Step Counting and Cadence Tracking: How Many and How Fast?"
Walking is one of the most common forms of human locomotion. The evolution of objective monitoring devices (e.g., pedometers or accelerometers) and the current wave of commercial wearable technologies has afforded public health researchers, practitioners, and the general public a unique opportunity to measure and promote ambulatory behavior, including walking, with minimal bias. In recent decades objective monitors have been used in a number of cross-sectional national- and state-representative studies to assess walking behavior and are increasingly used in clinical, community, and workplace based interventions. Amassed data now includes reference and index values useful to support interpretation and goal setting. We have better understanding now of "how many steps/day are enough?" and "how many steps/day are too few?," and now with an increasing interest in cadence (steps/min) as a reasonable index of ambulatory intensity, "how fast is enough?" This brief history of step counting and cadence tracking: 1) summarizes current epidemiological literature examining objectively monitored ambulatory behavior, 2) answers public health relevant questions concerning insufficient and sufficient amounts of daily walking, and 3) considers the relative importance of walking speed in relation to public health.
11:40 - 12:25 Taina Rantanen
"Mobility and Active Aging"
Mobility refers to a person's ability to move oneself from one place to another either with muscle activity or by using a vehicle. Life-space mobility refers to the spatial area where a person purposefully moves through (room, yard, neighborhood, town and beyond) and reflects a person's access to community amenities and opportunities to take part in different life situations. Higher life-space mobility correlates with better indicators of health and functioning, better sense of autonomy, more transportation options and less mobility barriers in the environment. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines active ageing as the process of optimizing opportunities for health and participation in the society for all people in line with their needs, goals and capacities as they age. From an individual's point of view this refers to staying in charge of one's life and exhibiting active agency in valued activities. We have defined active ageing as the interplay between four dimensions: personal goals (what one wants to do), activities (what one does), abilities (what one is able to do) and autonomy (opportunities for doing valued activities). Based on this we have developed an assessment tool to measure active ageing at an individual level. Our pilot data shows people who report a higher number of personal goals, better functional ability and perceive autonomy in outdoor activities have higher life-space mobility. The diversity of active ageing trajectories in old age may stem from very early life stages. A larger functional reserve acquired during earlier life may protect people from disability in late life. However, for current older cohorts facing a risk of functional decline in the near future, interventions need to be developed that improve their opportunities for participation also short term. We conducted a randomized controlled trial aiming to expand life-space of older practically home-bound people with severe mobility limitations. The outdoor intervention delivered by volunteers improved the physical dimension of quality of life. Compensating for the reduced individual capacities by external support or environmental modification may improve opportunities for participation among older people and thus improve their wellbeing. A standardized assessment tool for active ageing is crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of societal and technological interventions planned to promote active ageing.
12:25 - 13:55 Lunch for all registrants and poster viewing * Loyola Chapel
Session 3
13:55 - 14:00
Chair: Jean-Philippe Gouin
Opening remarks
Oscar Peterson Hall
14:00 - 14:45 Eli Puterman
"Psychological and Biological Pathways to Aging in Individuals with Life Course Adversity: Can Exercise Bolster Resiliency?"
The erosion of the basic functions of the immune system plays an integral role in the development and manifestation of disease and early mortality. A wide literature suggests that prolonged adversity can accelerate the aging of the immune system through repeated activation of stress response pathways that directly wear down the capacity of immune cells to manage internal and external physical threats. I will present my observational and intervention research that identifies habitual physical activity as a potent behaviour that can modify the impact of adversity on stress pathways, ultimately benefiting immune system health as indicated by the lengths of telomeres.
14:45 - 15:30 Joe Baker
"What Older Athletes Can Tell Us about Maximizing Our Potential as We Age"
One of the most robust and intriguing trends over the past century and a half is the consistent increase in the human lifespan. While generally positive, such longevity increases pose challenges from both individual and societal perspectives. For example, large proportions of seniors are sedentary and/or obese, which negatively affect a range of health outcomes including quality of life. One group of older adults that continues to participate in high levels of sport and exercise are Masters Athletes. Our research into this group suggests they are important for understanding the capabilities of older people and for de-constructing negative stereotypes about getting older. This presentation will summarize our research in this area and highlight reasons people of all ages should be optimistic about life as an older person.
15:30 - 15:35 Group stretch
15:35 - 16:00 Presentation of Ed Whitlock Award
Presentation of PERFORM post-doctoral award
Presentation of Scientific Poster Competition Awards
Karen Li, Chair Scientific Events and Communications Committee, PERFORM Centre
Oscar Peterson Hall
16:00 - 16:15 Closing remarks, Habib Benali, Interim Scientific Director, PERFORM Centre Oscar Peterson Hall
16:15 - 17:15 Reception Foyer of Oscar Peterson Hall

* Optional tour of PERFORM available during the breaks. Signup required the morning of the event in the foyer of Oscar Peterson Hall.

Note: all presentations will be in English.

Questions? Contact us at performcentre@concordia.ca

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