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The effects of sonification on motor imagery ability

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 research 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.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Daniel Bishop - I am a Researcher and Senior Lecturer in Sport & Exercise Psychology here at Brunel, a British Psychological Society (BPS) Chartered Psychologist registered to practise with the HCPC, an Associate Fellow of the BPS, and a Fellow of Advance HE (formerly the HEA). I am also the Director of Postgraduate Studies for the Division of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences. I have worked in both public and private sectors, including local authorities, the NHS, investment banks, the health & fitness industry and Further Education. These experiences have given me a sophisticated understanding of the challenges faced in this diverse range of industries, which is why I continue to add value to the performance of various individuals and organisations - using established psychological principles to do so. In my role as Departmental Lead for Staff Experience & Wellbeing, my vision is for Brunel to deservedly attain national recognition (e.g., the RSPH Health & Wellbeing Awards) for its long-term prioritisation of staff wellbeing and health. When I’m not working, I love to spend as much time as possible with my family and friends; and I am writing a book in the little I have left each week! I have also spent the past few years rebuilding my left knee from the inside out, with a careful self-determined rehabilitation programme. For those who are interested: at the time of typing, I can now tolerate regular running at a pretty good pace. I have realised that tight quadriceps and patellar tendons were compounding my cartilage problems, so have taken to regular self-massage using commercially available percussive and vibrating massagers - a game-changer. Static and eccentric patellar tendon loading has also helped, as has reverse cross-trainer exercise for as little as 12 mins, alternating 1 min reverse and 1 min forward. I have also found that running in crocs (with heel straps!) instead of (over-engineered) running shoes increases my knee stability.

Related Research Group(s)

Cognitive Neuroscience

Cognitive Neuroscience - Fundamental and applied research into brain function using techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), eye-tracking, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), infrared thermography together with psychophysics and cognitive behavioural paradigms in health and disease.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 15/07/2021