4 September 2019: The call for abstracts for ActiveBrain 2020 has just opened, with submissions invited for at the nation’s inaugural conference on the relationship between the brain and physical activity.
A collaboration between the University of Canberra and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), the conference will run from 19 to 21 May. It will see a host of national and international experts – including Professor Dr Romain Meeusen, the head of the Human Physiology Research Group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Professor Charles Hillman, director of the Center for Cognitive and Brain Health at Northeastern University, the United States – discussing the impact of physical activity on the brain – and reciprocally, how the brain influences physical activity.
Conference chair Associate Professor in Exercise Physiology Dr Ben Rattray said that the conference will approach the brain-physical activity relationship from both the health and performance perspectives.
“This initiative is really timely and relevant, and there is a strong need to bring together experts delving into the remarkable, important and sometimes-complex linkages between the brain and physical activity,” he said.
The seeds of the conference germinated when Dr Rattray was at a sport and exercise conference in Germany in 2017. Discussions with his colleagues pinpointed the need for this particular conference theme.
“It was quite obvious that despite the sports psychology field being an emerging one, there isn’t enough discussion and collaboration around the subject matter,” Dr Rattray said.
“I’ve worked on research with the AIS for years now, and over the last five years, they’ve been looking particularly closely at the physiology of the brain – so it was really a natural flow to collaborate with them.”
Participants can submit research abstracts for both oral and poster presentations. Themes include healthy brain ageing, exercise fatigue, cerebrovascular physiology, motor learning and decision-making, schooling and childhood development, clinical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, concussion, stroke and mental health issues, occupational and military settings, and technology development.
“We encourage inter-disciplinary research which spans the fields of physiology, psychology, neuroscience and clinical sciences,” said Dr Rattray.
“We’re particularly interested in people asking the question ‘What happens next?’ – as in, what is the practical application of the research, or the next research question that might be sparked?”