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Ladder Beam

Ladder BeamThe human mind is a complex area of study, even with advances in research technology, scientists have yet to discover a good portion of how the brain functions. Dr. Gerlinde Metz, an assistant professor at the University of Lethbridge, took a simple approach to her complicated area of study, inventing the Ladder Beam to aid her in her research. The device was designed to test animal movement in an experiment at a Swiss university, but its uses have since expanded to include a wide array of neurological studies.

Dr. Metz’s invention is a horizontal ladder with metal rungs that can be positioned in a specific order. Lab animals, such as mice or rats, are trained to walk across the ladder. When the rungs are placed at regular intervals, the animals are able to anticipate their next step. When the rungs are rearranged to create irregular distances, the animals may have greater difficulty crossing the structure and scientists are able to observe how they react to the changing variable.

Though the ladder beam is not patented, it has proved to be an invaluable tool for scientists around the world. By observing its effects on lab animals, researchers are able to better understand limb coordination, skilled movement and walking in humans as well. These observations have the potential to lead to new therapies and treatments for spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.

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