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Sleep, Circadian Physiology and Cognition suite

The Sleep, Circadian Physiology and Cognition suite is a state-of-the-art, 4-room research space that allows for investigations into how sleep and circadian physiology impact health, cognition and brain structure/function across the human lifespan. Our integrated electrophysiological data acquisition platform affords the simultaneous recording of brain (via electroencephalography – EEG), muscle (electromyography -EMG) and eye (electrooculography - EMG) activity during periods of wakefulness as well as daytime and nighttime sleep. We are equipped to collect human biological samples 24 hours per day as well as administer a battery of cognitive tests.

This allows us to study various 24-hour rhythms that exist in human physiology including the circadian system and behavioral rhythms like the sleep-wake cycle and timing of food intake. With our research findings, we hope that various stakeholders and the broader public finally consider sleep to be as equally important as physical activity or nutrition with respect to the impact on health and brain structure/function. In short, this suite is a cutting-edge space that puts the University of Utah on a short list of world leaders in sleep and circadian science.

Researcher setting up electroencephalography cap

Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Lab

Researcher setting up electroencephalography cap

The Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Laboratory enables in-depth quantification of the mechanics of human movement. The laboratory integrates high-fidelity motion capture cameras that record human movement with platforms to record forces exerted by the body and electromyographic sensors that record muscle activity. These combined data enable researchers to investigate how muscles, assistive devices (e.g., prosthetics, exoskeletons, footwear), and environmental conditions affect the movement and mechanical loadings throughout the body.

Our investigators collaborate with clinicians, including sports medicine physicians and orthopedic surgeons, to make ground-breaking advancements to the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of individuals with musculoskeletal injuries (e.g., osteoarthritis, ACL injury, amputation). 

Mobility and Stability Lab

The Mobility and Stability Lab provides the most advanced laboratory in the Intermountain West, and one of the most advanced laboratories in the world, to examine human balance control during real-world activities. Simultaneous recordings of body kinematics (i.e., movement), muscle activity, brain activity, and eye movements will enable our investigators to explore the what, why, and how of human balance and locomotion during activities of daily living. The laboratory contains an open floor plan that can be customized to mimic everyday environment, and embedded, immersive virtual and augmented reality systems enable the comprehensive kinematic, muscle, neural, and ocular data to be captured as individuals explore diverse environments that cannot be replicated in traditional laboratory environments.

The laboratory will also feature one of two cable-driven body-weight support systems in the United States, providing the opportunity to couple whole-body haptic feedback with virtual and augmented environments, explore how humans recover balance after destabilizing perturbations, and safely test new rehabilitation strategies for individuals with impaired mobility. 

A person harnessed up performing a stability test

Exercise intervention lab

Clinician taking notes as a person lifts weights

The exercise intervention lab includes 3 treadmills, 3 stationary bikes, 2 ellipticals, a full resistance training machine, and a full dumbbell set to support aerobic and resistance exercise intervention studies. Group-based, or individualized exercise intervention research will be performed here to advance the knowledge in how to increase physical activity, decrease sedentary time, improve diet, and lose weight.

Exercise Testing lab

The Exercise Testing lab is designed to test physiological health measures of metabolic rate, body composition, physical activity energy expenditure, aerobic and resistance fitness, along with a variety of psychological measures in both lab and free-living settings. The Exercise Testing lab is equipped with 2 treadmill, 2 cycle ergometers, and various metabolic measurement systems, heart rate, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (EKG), and other monitoring devices, to measure the body’s responses to exercise.

Leg press and bench press equipments are also available to measure muscular fitness.  Various types of Fitbits™, Actigraph™ and activPAL™ activity monitors allow for free-living activity monitoring outside of the laboratory providing measurements of behavior throughout the full 24-hours.

Clinician taking notes as a person works out on an elliptical

Physical Activity & Health Promotion Science Lab

Researcher taking notes as a person lifts weights

The Physical Activity and Health Promotion Science Lab is designed to meet interdisciplinary, and state-of-the-art research needs focusing on the assessment of physical activity and health-related fitness, interventions of physical activity and other health behaviors, and associations of physical activity with health outcomes in both lab- and community-based settings.

The lab is equipped with devices and resources for innovative teaching and collaborative research programs including: ActiGraph and GENEActiv accelerometers, ActiGraph and Polar heart rate monitors, pedometers, 100+ Fitbits, Apple Watches, Polar Vantage XL Watches, a COSMED K5 wearable metabolic system, FITNESSGRAM tests, motor skills and proficiency tests, Core Body Temp Kit, MedGraphics pulmonary spirometer, and various statistical analysis software (e.g., SPSS, SAS, STATA, Matlab, R).