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Clinical research


- The INT is interested in nervous system diseases which are often severe and various in their events and their origin. Researchers and clinicians at the INT focused on disability related to trauma (spinal cord), neurological diseases (Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases), psychiatric diseases (addiction, autism, schizophrenia, depression, stress post -traumatic ) and deficits of the sense organs (visual or hearing impairments).

- Understanding these conditions in their entirety, the pathophysiological mechanisms to clinical research and care is a global challenge. To meet this challenge, it is essential to develop integrative research to deepen our understanding of major functional systems ( motor, sensory , emotional and motivational ) linking the different levels of approach, from neuron to behavior.

- Imagery, in vivo neurophysiology, make it now possible to study brain function at these different levels, to break the neural code underlying the behavior and finally to interact with the brain via the techniques of molecular biology and brain interfaces machine. The specificity of the INT is to concentrate efforts on this integrative approach to develop new therapeutic strategies or remediation.


L’INT is strongly connected with local clinical units and poles

- Psychiatric Pole

The departments of Psychiatry of the APHM (Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Marseille) work in close collaboration with the INT. The two psychiatric centers are actively engaged : the Pôle de Psychiatrie Centre (Central Psychiatric Center) with three departments of adult psychiatry, a psychiatric emergency room and a medico-psychological emergency unit, and the Pôle Universitaire de Psychiatrie (University Psychiatric Center) with three departments of adult psychiatry and two departments of child psychiatry. Fondamental and transversal axes of mental pathology are studied :
-  Social interactions, which are obliterated in autistic disorders or in schizophrenia,
-  Emotionnal and affective processes, which constitute crucial dimensions in most psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorders, depression or anxiety disorders,
-  Cognitive and impulsivity disturbances, notably implicated in ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
-  Coping capacities in reaction to stress factors, particularly explored in the context of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

This research follows a transversal approach, linking fondamental research, neuroimaging and clinical evaluations, in complement to developmental approaches targeting prevention and follow-up of children and individuals at high risk. Special attention is paid to therapeutic implications both at pharmacological and psychotherapeutic levels.

-Head and neck Pole

Loss of sensory information such as when peripheral sensory organs are disorganized results in severe handicaps impacting almost all aspects human behavior. Through collaborations between INT researchers and clinicians studying eye diseases, we investigate new therapeutic perspective to test neuroprosthetic devices aiming at emulating the missing sensory inflow as in Age-related Macular degeneration. This implies to better understand the impact of these peripheral brain-machine interfaces on cortical dynamics and behaviors. In collaboration with boht CEA/LeTI (Grenoble) and Institut de la Vision (Paris), we investigate the functional impact of retinal stimulations at cortical level using population imaging. The Clinical Department of Ophthalmology has also research projects focusing on the different functional consequences on corneal damage and surgeries. We use in vivo imaging to evaluate their neuronal and vascular consequences in collaboration with laboratories in Physics and Optics (Institut Fresnel, LP3). In the future we will develop further collaboration with the other clinical units to investigate the consequences of hearing loss or atypical neurodevelopment of sensory systems.

- Physical medicine and rehabilitation center

The department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (PRM) is a university hospital department that is found on all hospital sites of the Marseille Public University Hospital System and whose care, teaching and research form the field of motor handicap linked with nervous system and musculoskeletal disease.

Stroke is the leading cause of acquired disability in adults (aphasia, hemiplegia). The first objective after the acute phase is to recover motor control of upper and lower limb and to recover grasp, postural control and gait. The main clinical research topic of the PRM department concerns postural and movement control in stroke patients. Several fields are investigated : gait initiation (transition between posture and gait), postural control in dual task (involving postural control in a cognitive task), and the effect of spasticity treatment (botulinum toxin) on postural control and gait.

The PRM department aims to better understand the mechanisms underlying postural and movement control after stroke but also the effects on these mechanisms of therapeutics (spasticity treatment). This approach in fundamental and clinical research within the INT will answer many questions in this area with the objective of improving gait and balance abilities in stroke patients.

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