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Prof. Shane O'Mara - Trinity College Dublin


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In praise of walking: The new science of how we walk and why it's good for us.

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Prof. Shane O'Mara - Trinity College Dublin

  1. 1. 25/10/2019 1 In Praise of Walking: The New Science of how we Walk and why it’s Good for us Shane O'Mara Professor of Experimental Brain Research Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College, Dublin – the University of Dublin Ireland “Human walking is a risky business. Without split-second timing man would fall flat on his face; in fact with each step he takes, he teeters on the edge of catastrophe” (so said British anthropologist John Napier) 2 3 It seems natural to think that walking first evolved on land But that’s not correct, as recent genetic studies show Lots of bottom dwellers ‘walk’ on the ocean floor Rosy-lipped Batfish: walk on the ocean floor using their pectoral fins Sea pigs: pigs-facts Compare the gene complex in the skate and mouse Does pelvic fin walking in Leucoraja rely on genetic programs and circuit components similar to those of tetrapods? 5 Cell 2018 172, 667-682.e15 DOI: (10.1016/j.cell.2018.01.013) © 2018 Elsevier Inc. 6 Genetic studies therefore show that the programme for walking first evolved in the sea - at least 420 mya
  2. 2. 25/10/2019 2 Land-shambling Tetrapods Getting up on your own two feet 10 Abstract A century of research on the development of walking has examined periodic gait over a straight, uniform path. The current study provides the first corpus of natural infant locomotion derived from spontaneous activity during free play. Locomotor experience was immense: Twelve- to 19-month-olds averaged 2,368 steps and 17 falls per hour. Immense amounts of time-distributed, variable practice constitute the natural practice regimen for learning to walk. 11 Rough Walking
  3. 3. 25/10/2019 3 13 14 “Because Science!” 15 A Balm for Body and Brain 17 18
  4. 4. 25/10/2019 4 Creative Walking Walking – what happens in the mind in motion? 21 Sir William Rowan Hamilton, mathematician at Trinity College Dublin: ‘quaternions’ extend the mathematical theory of complex numbers to 3d space Mathematics are strange and alien: non-commutative Ordinary arithmetic, 3+4 = 4+3. Quaternions: not true. Quaternions used in physics, computer gaming and graphics (and electric toothbrushes!) Hamilton discovered the solution on his regular long walks from Dunsink Observatory to Trinity College – a walk of c. 11 km Hamilton: ‘And here there dawned on me the notion that we must admit, in some sense, a fourth dimension of space for the purpose of calculating with triples ... An electric circuit seemed to close, and a spark flashed forth.’ Will walking me more creative? 24
  5. 5. 25/10/2019 5 Older = less creative? 25 Not all walking ideas are good ones… How much do I walk? 28 Smartphone data from over 68 million days of activity by 717,527 individuals reveal variability in physical activity across the world T Althoff et al. Nature 1–4 (2017) doi:10.1038/nature23018 Which sense is most important for navigating the world?
  6. 6. 25/10/2019 6 Nonvisual Navigation by Blind and Sighted: Assessment of Path Integration Ability “Blindfolded sighted, adventitiously blind, and congenitally blind subjects performed a set of navigation tasks.” “The slight performance differences between groups varying in visual experience were neither large nor consistent across tasks.” “Results provide little indication that spatial competence strongly depends on prior visual experience.” eautifulnews/41-everyone- everywhere-is-living-longer Walking the City: Design Features UK: 3,145 adults aged sixty five+ Tested for impairments in walking speed to investigate if simple tasks like crossing streets at signal-controlled junctions might be difficult or impossible as a result of ageing 84% of males and 94% of females tested had a walking impairment Road crossings are usually set for people who can walk at least 1.2 metres per second Vast majority of the older adults tested walked at below this speed Walking the City: Design Features Dementia prevention, intervention, and care Prof Gill Livingston, MD, Andrew Sommerlad, MSc, Vasiliki Orgeta, PhD, Sergi G Costafreda, PhD, Jonathan Huntley, PhD, Prof David Ames, MD, Prof Clive Ballard, MD, Prof Sube Banerjee, MD, Prof Alistair Burns, MD, Prof Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, PhD, Claudia Cooper, PhD, Prof Nick Fox, MD, Laura N Gitlin, PhD, Prof Robert Howard, MD, Prof Helen C Kales, MD, Prof Eric B Larson, MD, Prof Karen Ritchie, PhD, Prof Kenneth Rockwood, MD, Elizabeth L Sampson, MD, Quincy Samus, PhD, Prof Lon S Schneider, MD, Prof Geir Selbæk, PhD, Prof Linda Teri, PhD, Naaheed Mukadam, MSc The Lancet DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31363-6 Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd Terms and Conditions Figure 5 The Lancet DOI: (10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31363-6) Policy Implications for ‘dementia-proofing’ society are far-reaching Ensuring exercise is at the core of the recommendations Potential brain mechanisms for preventive strategies in dementia
  7. 7. 25/10/2019 7 Erickson et al (2011): randomised control trial in 120 older people - exercise intervention reversed declines in hippocampal volumes (by c. 1- 2 years – c. 2%) using structural MRI, concomitant with improvements in memory function and increases in circulating BDNF. What problem does having a brain solve? Why do we have a brain? 38 39 Image: Arjan Gittenberger Larval Tunicate, Phylum Chordata 40 By Jon Houseman - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 41 https://goodheartextremescie /01/sea-squirt-life- cycle.jpg?w=768&h=602 After attaching itself to a rock, the Sea Squirt absorbs its own ‘proto-brain’ as a meal Suppose you’re a little bit sea squirty, and you prefer doing this…? 42
  8. 8. 25/10/2019 8 Outcomes of 3d of dry immersion Muscle Volume Muscle Strength Muscle Viscoelasticity ‘Three days of muscle disuse in healthy adult subjects is sufficient to significantly decrease muscle mass, tone and force, and to induce changes in function relating to a weakness in aerobic metabolism and muscle fibre denervation.’ Being Homer Simpson is bad for you 45 Most of our Walking will be URBAN – in towns and cities Our streets used to be terrible for walkers
  9. 9. 25/10/2019 9 John Gay’s 1716 poem warned of the dangers posed by the emptying of chamber-pots when walking underneath London windows, where ‘dropping vaults distil unwholesome dews Ere the tiles rattle with the smoking shower And spouts on heedless men their torrents pour’ Our streets are quite often still terrible for walkers The Font junction is notable in that it does not have pedestrian crossings on all arms, and the crossings are staged in order to regulate pedestrians for the benefit of motorists. On Friday 6th September, shortly after 11am, it took FOURTEEN MINUTES to cross. Concern pedestrian crossing at Spanish Arch causing daily backlog at Lough Atalia Road Pedestrians are too often ignored in favour of motorists
  10. 10. 25/10/2019 10 And yet: favourite places in Galway are places pedestrians congregate and amble about 1. Eyre Square 2. Galway Christmas Market 3. St. Nicholas' Church 4. Galway Cathedral 5. The Corrib Princess 6. Galway City Museum 7. The Aran Islands 8. Clarinbridge 9. The Burren 10. The Cliffs of Moher 56 EASE our towns and cities should be: easy (to walk) accessible (to all) safe (for everyone) and enjoyable (for all) In Praise of Walking: The New Science of how we Walk and why it’s Good for us Shane O'Mara Professor of Experimental Brain Research Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College, Dublin – the University of Dublin Ireland