The walking brain; How our brain stabilizes our unstable locomotion.


For us, walking forms a big challenge. At young age, we are unable to walk and crawl on all fours ? a form of quadrupedal gait. At late age, we sometimes return to a ?quad-rupedal gait?, with front limbs typically replaced by walking aids. Between those ex-tremes, we are able to walk with remarkable ease, and mostly without falling. How are we able to do so? Answering this question can have major impacts, as consequences of an unstable gait, i.e. falls, place a large socioeconomic burden on society, not to forget on the individual that falls.
Looking at behavior, the required stability has at least three aspects, namely steady state-, proactive-, and reactive gait stability. During my PhD, I worked on meth-ods to quantify these aspects. In the here-proposed experiments, I hope to tackle how stable gait is achieved by looking at supraspinal neural structures that participate in the required motor control. I plan to do so using exciting new data analysis approaches in the field of high-density electro-encephalography.
First, I will localize brain areas involved in maintaining steady-state gait stability. Second, I will examine the effects of attentional load on gait stability via a dual task paradigm and instructed attention towards gait. Third, I will assess which brain areas are (in which way) involved in the different aspects of gait stability, i.e. steady-state, proactive, and reactive gait stability, by applying (un)expected perturbations to gait.
By performing these three studies in young adults, fall-prone, and ?normal? elderly, it is my hope that my fundamental results can be immediately translated to practically useful applications. These include the development of better gait stability measures, as well as a potential shift in fall prevention therapy from internal focus (i.e. monitoring ones own gait), to external focus (i.e. walking towards a building).


Wetenschappelijk artikel

  • S.M. Bruijn, F. Massaad, M. Maclellan, L. Van Gestel, Y.P. Ivanenko, J. Duysens(2013): Are effects of the symmetric and asymmetric tonic neck reflexes still visible in healthy adults? Neuroscience Letters pp. 89 - 92
  • W. Hoogkamer, S.M. Bruijn, J. Duysens(2013): Stride length asymmetry in split-belt locomotion Gait & Posture pp. 652 - 654
  • M.J. MacLellan, Y.P. Ivanenko, F. Massaad, S.M. Bruijn, J. Duysens, F. Lacquiniti(2014): Muscle activation patterns are bilaterally linked during split-belt treadmill walking in humans Journal of Neurophysiology pp. 1541 - 1552
  • J. Stenum, S.M. Bruijn, B.R. Jensen(2014): The effect of walking speed on local dynamic stability is sensitive to calculation methods. J Biomech pp. 3776 - 3779
  • W.H. Wu, X.C. Lin, O.G. Meijer, J.T. Gao, H. Hu, M.R. Prins, B.W. Liang, L.Q. Zhang, J.H. Van Dieen, S.M. Bruijn(2014): Effects of experimentally increased trunk stiffness on thorax and pelvis rotations during walking Human Movement Science pp. 194 - 202
  • S.M. Bruijn, A Van Impe, Duysens J, S. Swinnen(2014): White matter microstructural organization and gait stability in older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience pp. 104 - 104
  • W. Hoogkamer, S.M. Bruijn, J. Duysens(2014): Gait parameters affecting the perception threshold of locomotor symmetry: comment on lauzière, et Al. (2014). Percept Mot Skills pp. 474 - 477
  • V. Thielemans, P. Meyns, S.M. Bruijn(2014): Is angular momentum in the horizontal plane during gait a controlled variable? Human Movement Science pp. 205 - 216
  • M Goudriaan, I. Jonkers, J.H. Van Dieen, S.M. Bruijn(2014): Arm swing in human walking: what is their drive? Gait and Posture pp. 205 - 216
  • S.M. Bruijn, L.P.W. De Wit, M.A. Plaisier, N Pluyter(2015): Tactile pavement for guiding walking direction: An assessment of heading direction and gait stability. Gait Posture pp. 534 - 538
  • W. Hoogkamer, S.M. Bruijn, Z. Potocanac, F. van Calenbergh, S.P. Swinnen, J. Duysens(2015): Gait asymmetry during early split-belt walking is related to perception of belt speed difference. J Neurophysiol pp. 1705 - 1712
  • M Punt, S.M. Bruijn, Wittink H., J.H. Van Dieen(2015): Effect of arm swing strategy on local dynamic stability of human gait. Gait Posture pp. 504 - 509
  • W. Hoogkamer, S.M. Bruijn, S. Sunaert, S.P. Swinnen, F. van Calenbergh, J. Duysens(2015): Adaptation and aftereffects of split-belt walking in cerebellar lesion patients. J Neurophysiol pp. 1693 - 1704
  • F Mohammadi, S.M. Bruijn, G. Verburg, E.E.H. van Wegen, G. Kwakkel, S.V. Verschueren, A. Nieuwboer(2015): Motor switching and motor adaptation deficits contribute to freezing of gait in Parkinson's disease. Neurorehabil Neural Repair pp. 134 - 142
  • W. Hoogkamer, S.M. Bruijn, S. Sunaert, S. Swinnen, F. van Calenbergh, J. Duysens(2015): Toward new sensitive measures to evaluate gait stability in focal cerebellar lesion patients. Gait Posture pp. 504 - 509
  • J.H. van Dieën, S.M. Bruijn, A. Daffertshofer(2015): Beta activity in the premotor cortex is increased during stabilized as compared to normal walking. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience pp. 593 - 593
  • X. Lin, O.G. Meijer, J. Lin, W. Wu, B Liang, J.H. van Dieën, S.M. Bruijn(2015): Frontal plane kinematics in walking with moderate hip osteoarthritis: Stability and fall risk. Clinical Biomechanics pp. 874 - 880
  • P.W. Hodges, W. van den Hoorn, S.M. Bruijn, J.H. Van Dieen, F. Hug(2015): Effects of noxious stimulation to the back or calf muscles on gait stability. J Biomech pp. 4109 - 4115
  • M.M. Van de Krogt, S.M. Bruijn, J.C. Van den Noort, L.H. Sloot, J. Harlaar(2015): Can Treadmill Perturbations Evoke Stretch Reflexes in the Calf Muscles? PLoS One pp. e0144 - e0144
  • S.H. Corporaal, S.P. Swinnen, S.M. Bruijn, J. Duysens(2016): Slow maturation of planning in obstacle avoidance in humans. J Neurophysiology pp. 404 - 412
  • O.G. Meijer, A. Mahmoudian, J.H. Van Dieen, H.R. Yakhdani, S.M. Bruijn, S.M. Verschueren(2016): Phase-dependent changes in local dynamic stability during walking in elderly with and without knee osteoarthritis. J Biomech pp. 80 - 86
  • G.S. Faber, I Jonkers, S.M. Bruijn, J.H. Van Dieen, A Mahmoudian, S.M. Verschueren, F.P. Luyten, I.A. Baert(2016): Changes in proprioceptive weighting during quiet standing in women with early and established knee osteoarthritis compared to healthy controls. Gait Posture pp. 184 - 188





Dr. S.M. Bruijn

Verbonden aan

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Department of Biomedical Kinesiology


Dr. S.M. Bruijn


01/03/2013 tot 29/02/2016