Title of the project: A systematic study of correlated changes in physical fitness, brain plasticity, cognitive and motor performance induced by combined training programs during aging.
Growing evidence that aging is multi-dimensional and leads to modifications in cross-level and cross-domain interactions within the neuro-musculo-behavioral system. However, the classic disciplinary subdivisions still persist in gerontological research. This is particularly detrimental for understanding whether, how and why the transition from robustness to frailty can be delayed by the use of multi-modal training interventions. Moving beyond disciplinary frontiers, Plastic-Age project gathers specialists in behavioral and theoretical neurosciences, cognitive psychology, physiology, biomechanics, biomedical and social sciences around a common issue: investigating cross-domains and multi-scale mechanisms underlying correlated changes in physical fitness, brain plasticity, cognitive functioning, motor performance and well-being during aging. To achieve this objective, Plastic-Age connects theory and experimentation in human and animal to investigate the effects of different multi-dimensional training programs on cross-domains interactions (cardio-vascular/muscular/cognitive/motor/psychological) and multi-scale processes (i.e., from cellular to behavioral level). The findings arising from the fundamental research program will be used in two directions included in the project’s agenda. First of all, the identified brain markers of exercise-induced health and plasticity will be fed into The Virtual Brain as reference for modeling and simulation. Secondly, findings will be used as proofs of concepts for developing a Brain-Body Training System and a wearable neuro-technology dedicated to the assessment of physical fitness and brain health in older adults. The consortium of Plastic-Age includes complementary partners with complementary expertise: four research structures of AMU, a German research lab, a Canadian innovation network (Age-Well), a geriatric structure of AP-HM and four socio-economic partners (AG2R, SMUC, Region PACA, ESPHI). Accordingly, a part of the project will be co-financed. Research and Innovation Program. A 3 years experimental agenda will be proposed to investigate the effects of metabolic exercise, muscular force, and cognitive stimulation on physical fitness and performance, cognition, brain health and plasticity, as well as quality of life. Complementary experiments will be conducted in parallel in human and animal. In human, motor paradigms and cognitive tasks will be used to assess the effects of training at behavioral level. In addition, ECG, EMG, EEG, fNIRS, VO2 consumption will be used to record brain, muscular, cardio-vascular and behavioral functions and to assess physical fitness. In animal, structural, cellular and biochemical analyses will be conducted in addition to behavioral analyses in response to multi-modal training. Socio-economic impact and added-value for AMU. Plastic-Age will contribute to the production of novel interdisciplinary knowledge on the benefits of exercise and the transition from robustness to frailty for a broad pluri-disciplinary scientific community. Plastic-Age will also constitute a theoretically grounded foundation for clinical applications (assessment and training). In addition, Plastic-Age will enrich the link between empirical data and The Virtual Brain (TVB), thereby extending the scope of TVB to the plasticity induced by exercise. Finally, the present project will contribute to innovation for active and healthy aging, thereby positioning AMU as a player in this domain of great socio-economic impact.