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1.
Multisensory mechanisms of gait and balance in Parkinson's disease : an integrative review
Stiven Roytman, Rebecca Paalanen, Giulia Carli, Uroš Marušič, Prabesh Kanel, Teus van Laar, Nicolaas I. Bohnen, 2025, review article

Abstract: Understanding the neural underpinning of human gait and balance is one of the most pertinent challenges for 21st-century translational neuroscience due to the profound impact that falls and mobility disturbances have on our aging population. Posture and gait control does not happen automatically, as previously believed, but rather requires continuous involvement of central nervous mechanisms. To effectively exert control over the body, the brain must integrate multiple streams of sensory information, including visual, vestibular, and somatosensory signals. The mechanisms which underpin the integration of these multisensory signals are the principal topic of the present work. Existing multisensory integration theories focus on how failure of cognitive processes thought to be involved in multisensory integration leads to falls in older adults. Insufficient emphasis, however, has been placed on specific contributions of individual sensory modalities to multisensory integration processes and cross-modal interactions that occur between the sensory modalities in relation to gait and balance. In the present work, we review the contributions of somatosensory, visual, and vestibular modalities, along with their multisensory intersections to gait and balance in older adults and patients with Parkinson's disease. We also review evidence of vestibular contributions to multisensory temporal binding windows, previously shown to be highly pertinent to fall risk in older adults. Lastly, we relate multisensory vestibular mechanisms to potential neural substrates, both at the level of neurobiology (concerning positron emission tomography imaging) and at the level of electrophysiology (concerning electroencephalography). We hope that this integrative review, drawing influence across multiple subdisciplines of neuroscience, paves the way for novel research directions and therapeutic neuromodulatory approaches, to improve the lives of older adults and patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
Keywords: aging, gait, balance, encephalography, functional magnetic resonance imaging, multisensory integration
Published in DiRROS: 17.06.2024; Views: 27; Downloads: 39
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2.
Editorial : The intersection of cognitive, motor, and sensory processing in agings
Uroš Marušič, Jeannette R. Mahoney, 2024, other scientific articles

Keywords: aging, sensory performance, motor performance, cognitive performance, multisensory integration
Published in DiRROS: 22.01.2024; Views: 291; Downloads: 111
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3.
Unleashing the potential of dance : a neuroplasticity-based approach bridging from older adults to Parkinson’s disease patients
Cécil J. W. Meulenberg, Kathrin Rehfeld, Saša Jovanović, Uroš Marušič, 2023, review article

Abstract: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects >1% of individuals worldwide and is manifested by motor symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia, as well as non-motor symptoms such as cognitive impairment and depression. Non-pharmacological interventions such as dance therapy are becoming increasingly popular as complementary therapies for PD, in addition to pharmacological treatments that are currently widely available. Dance as a sensorimotor activity stimulates multiple layers of the neural system, including those involved in motor planning and execution, sensory integration, and cognitive processing. Dance interventions in healthy older people have been associated with increased activation of the prefrontal cortex, as well as enhanced functional connectivity between the basal ganglia, cerebellum, and prefrontal cortex. Overall, the evidence suggests that dance interventions can induce neuroplastic changes in healthy older participants, leading to improvements in both motor and cognitive functions. Dance interventions involving patients with PD show better quality of life and improved mobility, whereas the literature on dance-induced neuroplasticity in PD is sparse. Nevertheless, this review argues that similar neuroplastic mechanisms may be at work in patients with PD, provides insight into the potential mechanisms underlying dance efficacy, and highlights the potential of dance therapy as a non-pharmacological intervention in PD. Further research is warranted to determine the optimal dance style, intensity, and duration for maximum therapeutic benefit and to determine the long-term effects of dance intervention on PD progression.
Keywords: dance, neurodegeneration, tremor, rhythm, sensorimotor integration
Published in DiRROS: 29.06.2023; Views: 450; Downloads: 234
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4.
How do you feel at school? : a cross-country comparative analysis of migrant adolescents' school well-being
Lucija Dežan, Mateja Sedmak, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Adolescents present a relevant stakeholder in international migrations since they comprise a large share of all migrants. Previous studies show that migration processes significantly affect the well-being of migrant adolescents. This article investigates how the school environment, with its pedagogical practices and interpersonal relationships established between migrant adolescents, their classmates, and teachers, affect migrant adolescents’ well-being. Our research draws on quantitative data collected as part of the MiCREATE project. The sample of migrant adolescents (N = 700) was surveyed in 46 schools in six countries: Austria, Denmark, Slovenia, Spain, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Results indicate that migrant adolescents like school and feel safe there, however, they tend to be more satisfied with relationships established with teachers than with peers. Furthermore, differences in self-perceived school well-being emerge when comparing countries with a longer tradition of high migration flows (Spain, Denmark, and the United Kingdom) and those less experienced (Poland and Slovenia), although slight exceptions were detected. The results lead to the conclusion that schools that foster intercultural education and fulfilling interpersonal relationships are essential for school well-being of migrant adolescents and present an important step toward successful integration of migrant youth.
Keywords: migration, migrant children, well-being, integration, child-centered approach, family, school
Published in DiRROS: 30.01.2023; Views: 400; Downloads: 258
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5.
National survey report - Slovenia : migrant children and communities in a transforming Europe
Zorana Medarić, 2021, final research report

Keywords: migration, migrant children, integration, wellbeing
Published in DiRROS: 13.01.2023; Views: 724; Downloads: 199
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6.
What about the family? : the role and meaning of family in the integration of migrant children
Zorana Medarić, Barbara Gornik, Mateja Sedmak, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Based on field research in Slovenian schools, the article examines the role of the family in the integration process of migrant children. While migrant children perceive the family as the most important factor influencing their overall well-being and life satisfaction, research shows that parents of migrant children are often not involved in school activities and life. The article explores how the role of parents in the integration process of migrant children in the school environment is understood at the policy level and how it is perceived by migrant children and the educational community. It also explores what are the main barriers to the involvement of migrant parents in schools and what are the existing practices and experiences in Slovenian schools. The analysis is based on qualitative research in Slovenian schools with children and the educational community conducted as part of the Migrant Children and Communities in a Transforming Europe (MiCREATE) project.
Keywords: migration, migrant children, integration, child-centered approach, family, school
Published in DiRROS: 13.12.2022; Views: 547; Downloads: 336
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7.
8.
Does cognitive training improve mobility, enhance cognition, and promote neural activation?
Uroš Marušič, Joe Verghese, Jeannette R. Mahoney, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: A close inter-relationship between mobility and cognition is reported in older adults, with improvements in gait performance noticeable after cognitive remediation in frail individuals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of computerized cognitive training (CCT) on mobility in healthy, independently living older adults, and to determine whether CCT is associated with changes in neural activation for mobility-related brain processes. Using a randomized single-blind control design, sixty-three non-demented adults age 60 y and older (mean age = 67 y; 76% female, mean Montreal Cognitive Assessment [MoCA] score = 27) were recruited from a local Senior Activity Center. Participants were randomly assigned to either a 2-month CCT program (8 weeks, 3x/week, 40 min/session) or a wait-list control group. Primary outcome was self-selected gait speed during single- and dual-task walking. Secondary outcome was executive function on Trail Making Test (TMT), Part B. Neural activity was assessed via electroencephalography/event-related potentials (EEG/ERPs) targeting lower-limb performance. Results from a linear mixed effect model, adjusted for baseline MoCA score, age, gender, and study completion revealed that compared to controls, CCT improved gait speed during the dual-task (p = 0.008) but not during the single-task walking condition (p = 0.057). CCT also improved executive function (p = 0.024). Further, shorter foot reaction time responses (p = 0.019) were found with enhanced neural activation over sensorimotor areas, with shorter ERP latencies during the P2 component (p = 0.008) and enhanced motor responses (p = 0.009) also evident in the CCT group after the intervention. Overall, the electrophysiological findings suggest possible neural adaptations that could explain improvements in mobility and executive functions associated with CCT in healthy older adults.
Keywords: visual evoked potentials, motor-related cortical potentials, executive control, cognitive-motor brain networks, healthy aging, sensorimotor integration, functional mobility
Published in DiRROS: 24.05.2022; Views: 690; Downloads: 511
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9.
Neural bases of age-related sensorimotor slowing in the upper and lower limbs
Uroš Marušič, Manca Peskar, Kevin De Pauw, Nina Omejc, Gorazd Drevenšek, Bojan Rojc, Rado Pišot, Voyko Kavcic, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: With advanced age, there is a loss of reaction speed that may contribute to an increased risk of tripping and falling. Avoiding falls and injuries requires awareness of the threat, followed by selection and execution of the appropriate motor response. Using event-related potentials (ERPs) and a simple visual reaction task (RT), the goal of our study was to distinguish sensory and motor processing in the upper- and lower-limbs while attempting to uncover the main cause of age-related behavioral slowing. Strength (amplitudes) as well as timing and speed (latencies) of various stages of stimulus- and motor-related processing were analyzed in 48 healthy individuals (young adults, n = 24, mean age = 34 years; older adults, n = 24, mean age = 67 years). The behavioral results showed a significant age-related slowing, where the younger compared to older adults exhibited shorter RTs for the upper- (222 vs. 255 ms; p = 0.006, respectively) and the lower limb (257 vs. 274 ms; p = 0.048, respectively) as well as lower variability in both modalities (p = 0.001). Using ERP indices, age-related slowing of visual stimulus processing was characterized by overall larger amplitudes with delayed latencies of endogenous potentials in older compared with younger adults. While no differences were found in the P1 component, the later components of recorded potentials for visual stimuli processing were most affected by age. This was characterized by increased N1 and P2 amplitudes and delayed P2 latencies in both upper and lower extremities. The analysis of motor-related cortical potentials (MR) revealed stronger MRCP amplitude for upper- and a non-significant trend for lower limbs in older adults. The MRCP amplitude was smaller and peaked closer to the actual motor response for the upper- than for the lower limb in both age groups. There were longer MRCP onset latencies for lower- compared to upper-limb in younger adults, and a non-significant trend was seen in older adults. Multiple regression analyses showed that the onset of the MRCP peak consistently predicted reaction time across both age groups and limbs tested. However, MRCP rise time and P2 latency were also significant predictors of simple reaction time, but only in older adults and only for the upper limbs. Our study suggests that motor cortical processes contribute most strongly to the slowing of simple reaction time in advanced age. However, late-stage cortical processing related to sensory stimuli also appears to play a role in upper limb responses in the elderly. This process most likely reflects less efficient recruitment of neuronal resources required for the upper and lower extremity response task in older adults.
Keywords: aging, sensoriomotor integration, event-related potential, finger and foot responses, motor-related cortical potential
Published in DiRROS: 04.05.2022; Views: 634; Downloads: 490
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10.
Struggles and dilemmas of Uyghur immigrants in Turkey
Mettursun Beydulla, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: The social and economic integration of the Uyghurs into Turkish society reflec-ts a problem to which policy makers have not yet found a response. Marginalized by the larger society and separated by linguistic differences and cultural and social life-styles, a significant proportion of Uyghurs, especially “newcomers” who have arrived since the 1980s, is in danger of becoming part of a “parallel society.” This is reinforced by exclusion, inferiorization and “otherness,” restricted educational achievements, uncertain citizenship, legal status limbo and low socioeconomic status. Pro-Uyghur, pro-independence and anti-Chinese government mobiliza-tion in Turkey has attracted the attention of Chinese authorities for a long time, and this attention has in turn affected and shaped mobilization in Turkey. The Turkey-China relationship is involved as well. The main goals of Chinese policy and strategy in Turkey are the security of “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” (a.k.a. East Turkistan), access to natural resources, security of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and economic and technological investment. It means that China believes it must consolidate its control of “Xinjiang” (East Turkistan) and restrain the Uyghur independence movement in Turkey. China’s economic and technolo-gical power and investments in Turkey are not just increasing its influence; they are making Turkey far more reticent to speak out about Beijing’s abuses, systematic oppression and atrocities in the “Xinjiang” (East Turkistan). China’s geo-econo-mic strategy has resulted in political influence in Turkey that profoundly affects its Uyghur population.
Keywords: Uyghur refugees, Uyghur immigration, integration, Uyghur dilemma, Turkish policy, Turkish and Chinese relations
Published in DiRROS: 22.03.2022; Views: 635; Downloads: 406
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