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Sensory-Motor Aspects of Nervous Systems Disorders: Insights from Biosensors and smart technology in the dynamic assessment of disorders, their progression, and treatment outcomes

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A short video outlining the study of neurological conditions in the context of this Research Topic can be found here.

We are entering an era of precision medicine and personalized health—an era ...

A short video outlining the study of neurological conditions in the context of this Research Topic can be found here.

We are entering an era of precision medicine and personalized health—an era that aims to assess an individual’s specific needs for personalized treatments and monitor outcomes with objective precision. This new approach, emerging within all clinical arenas, is challenging basic scientific research, especially that concerning disorders of the nervous system. Combining objective biometrics with wearable sensing and smart technology, new research is removing barriers to health assessment and monitoring. Enabling dynamic objective assessment of the progression of the disorder, while affording real-time feedback, has direct translational value, moving research from the lab and clinic, to the home and the classroom.

Sensory and motor processing is inextricably linked and inherent to the functioning of the nervous systems. As demonstrated through decades of research from ecological psychology through to physiology on sensory-motor control and infant development, consideration of either sensory processing or motor control in isolation is arguably an artificial reduction and an inappropriate approach for health and medicine. This interwoven perspective culminates in the role of kinesthetic reafference from self-generated motions, and efferent actions—with the re-conceptualization of movement as a form of sensory feedback providing a critical bridge in this endeavor. Combined, sensory and motor functioning thus provide a core on which to build inferences to guide basic and complex actions, and develop higher-level skills along cognitive and social axes. From a clinical framework, this perspective situates sensory and motor functions as fundamental dimensions that may underpin or contribute significantly to the expression of many neurological disorders. By harnessing biophysical data recorded from across the multiple layers of the peripheral and central nervous systems, researchers and clinicians working within this perspective are beginning to pave the way in precision medicine and personalized health. Combining wearable sensing technology with a personalized statistical inferential lens, driven by computational methods and biometric data, provides insights into the function and integration of multiple sensory, somatic, and motor signals. Furthermore, the development and implementation of new personalized sensory-substitution, sensory-augmentation, and motor rehabilitation therapies is now possible. Issues concerning mental health, physiological well-being, disease progression, or treatment outcomes can be addressed, for e.g. by drawing on the real time characterization of an individual’s natural motor behaviors, researchers and clinicians can close the sensory-motor feedback loop with augmented and individually tailored re-parameterized sensory input designed to shape and guide motor performance.

Through this platform, disorders with recognized and emerging sensory-motor dimensions stand to gain new insights into their origins, developmental or pathogenic mechanisms, and efficiencies in personalized targeted treatment. Among these are cognitive and neuropsychiatric disorders traditionally defined by clinical inventories, such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but also neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Within the new quantitative framework, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) deserves special mention. With axes of symptomatology, which can be objectively characterized and dynamically tracked with wearable sensing technology, and transcending a range of human disorders, SPD may provide a novel window of insight into the presentation of clinical characteristics.

This Research Topic brings together scientists from academia, clinicians from multiple fields, and representatives of health and tech industries to identify problems that will advance the field of sensory-motor assessment, and provide new insights into dynamic diagnosis and the use of integrative interventions to monitor outcome measures. In turn, critical societal needs will be addressed, including the lack of insurance coverage across the US for basic sensory-motor driven therapies and questions posed regarding the impact of medication on the nascent nervous systems. The Topic will provide a review of sensory-motor processes in research and clinical practice across all disorders, and will highlight basic scientific and clinical research into sensory-motor processing as a route of improving our understanding of these issues in neurodevelopmental and lifespan disorders, health, and treatment. Our research papers will highlight contemporary approaches and forecast new issues for investigation in future basic research with translational value.

Join our topic and help reshape more than one field of Integrative Neuroscience, while transforming the ways in which we diagnose, deliver, treat, and track disorders of the nervous systems.

Keywords: wearable sensing technology, sensory-processing disorders, somatic-motor, outcome measures, occupational therapies

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