Evangelos Christou, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at UF. As an affiliate of the UFTI, his research focuses on the effects of aging and neuromuscular control of movement.
Christou’s connection to transportation originates from his interest in how perceptual and motor issues influence driving.
“For example, if we try to repeat a movement several times, the outcome will be different every time,” Christou said. “In some neurological diseases and with aging, this motor output variability increases dramatically and impairs function.”
The term motor action refers to how humans and animals use their muscles to initiate and direct the muscles and limbs to perform a specific movement.
Christou conducts his research from a neurophysiological/neuroscience perspective to understand the underlying mechanisms for this inconsistency in movement and how it affects the driver experience.
“One such function that gets affected is driving, which can increase the risk for accidents and amplify the possibility for injury to the driver and others.”
In his lab, Christou aims to develop motor rehabilitation programs that reduce motor variability, which enhance motor control and consequently driving. One of his current projects is looking at motor control and functions such as driving in populations of older adults and individuals with neurological disorders, such as stroke and transient ischemic attacks. Recent findings related to his work in this area have shown that motor training with reduced visual information enhances the ability of older adults to learn a new task; they are utilizing these concepts to enhance driving in older adults.
“I believe that our current work will have a more direct societal impact and will initiate interest in the field and contribute to further understanding of driving impairments in specific human populations.” he said.
Christou and other faculty interested in driving-related research are planning a mini conference for November 17, 2015, titled “Enhancing Driving: An Interdisciplinary Approach,” co-sponsored by the UFTI/STRIDE Center. The conference will take place at Emerson Alumni Hall.