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The effects of sonification on motor imagery ability

Ongoing

Project description

Sonification, the association of a sound profile to a silent movement characteristic, is a form of real-time augmented feedback. Previous research has suggested that this can be an effective strategy to improve motor performance, in both clinical and healthy populations. However, its effect on motor imagery ability is unknown.

Motor imagery ability is a very important skill in both clinical and healthy populations, but it is fundamental for clinical populations with major motor disruption. Today, motor imagery can be used to control brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), but recent evidence suggests that the control of those system changes as a function not only technical aspects of the BCI, but also the user’s motor imagery proficiency. Thus, strategies that improve motor imagery ability can be argued to indirectly affect the control of BCIs.

The aim of this project is to investigate the use of sensory augmentation, in the form of sonification, of an observed action to improve people’s ability to subsequently imagine that action.

This PhD programme comprises a series of studies, in which EEG and TMS are being used to examine (a) the potential for sonifying a movement that ordinarily has no sound, such that it can be more vividly imagined on subsequent occasions; (b) the neural mechanisms that may underpin this phenomenon and (c) the applicability of this technique to users suffering from spinal cord injury.

By improving the motor imagery proficiency of patients with motor dysfunctions, we can improve their ability to control of brain-computer interfaces, and thus improve their quality of life.