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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
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 Programme Lead for the Psychology (Sport, Health and Exercise) BSc in the Department of Life 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. On this note: I am proud to be the Director of Research for The Bikeability Trust. My remit is to procure and generate evidence to demonstrate the efficacy of the excellent Bikeability cycle training programme - including a role for immersive cycle training to consolidate the considerable learning that occurs at all Levels of Bikeability training. In my role as Departmental Lead for Staff Experience & Wellbeing, my vision was 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, although I have spent a disproportionate amount of time writing my book, Motivation: The Manual (available on Amazon) over the past few years. I have also been rebuilding my left knee from the inside out, with a careful self-determined rehabilitation programme. For those who are interested: I realised (very late) that tight quadriceps and patellar tendons were compounding my cartilage problems, so took to regular self-massage using commercially available percussive and vibrating massagers - a game-changer. I have also found that running in crocs (with heel straps!) instead of (over-engineered) running shoes increases my knee stability, as does using barefoot shoes occasionally - although at a cost to the lumbar spine and fatty pads in the soles of my feet! But to cut a long and slightly sad story short: on 23rd September 2023, I ran a parkrun in 21 minutes, at the age of 48 - and the knees felt great!

Related Research Group(s)

brain scan

Cognitive and Clinical 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 14/11/2023