i_mBODY Lab

Interactive Multisensory Body-centred Experiences
at the Intersection of Neuroscience & Technology

Characterization of EEG neural markers in the sensorimotor cortex when using movement sonification for walking ability

Date: 25th January 2023
Speaker: Marta Matamala-Gomez

Little is known about responses to periodic auditory stimuli with periodicities found in human rhythmic behavior (0.5-5 Hz). However, some studies show a tonic synchronization response in the delta range, taken at the Cz-electrode, with a maximum response at 2 Hz, when using periodic auditory stimulation (drum sounds and clicks sound stimuli (Will & Berg, 2007). Recently, entrainment models of rhythmic motor behavior investigated intrinsic rhythmicity and frequency coupling in neural systems (Thaut et al., 1997). According to this, it is shown that a repetition rate frequency between 1-8 Hz is the most relevant to induce a human repetitive sensorimotor behavior (Large et al., 2009; Will & Berg, 2007). Further, a recent study developed a validated new approach to define the brain responses associated with biological motion perception by showing a point-light walker moving at a pace of 2.4 Hz and using EEG frequency ragging to measure the brain response coupled to that pace (Cracco et al., 2022 (preprint)). In this study, the authors identified brain responses coupled to the biological movement of walking at 1.2 Hz (half walking cycle), corresponding to the rate at which the individual dots repeated their trajectory, and at 2.4 Hz, that was related to the full walking cycle movement (Cracco et al., 2022 (preprint)). Aim: To investigate which frequency rate between 1 and 8 Hz is the more appropriate to reach a peak of brain entrainment when observing a repetitive video walking stimulus coupled to a footstep audio stimulus displayed at the same frequency. Methods: The study is composed of three different factors: (i) audio stimuli, (ii) video stimuli, (iii) audio + video stimuli. Each factor contains six different conditions (i) audio stimuli: normal footstep sound vs. random footsteps sound set at different frequencies: Slow frequency (0.5 Hz), Normal frequency (2 Hz), Fast frequency (3.5 Hz). (ii) Video stimuli: normal walking movement vs. random walking movements set at Slow frequency (0.5 Hz), Normal frequency (2 Hz), Fast frequency (3.5 Hz). (iii) Audio + video stimuli: normal walking movement + normal footsteps sound vs. random walking movement + random footsteps sound, set at different frequencies, Slow frequency 0.5 Hz, Normal frequency 2 Hz, Fast frequency 3.5 Hz. Each condition will be repeated four times in a randomized order. Hypothesis: We expect higher brain entrainment responses with the audio (footsteps stimuli) + video (walking movement) set at 2 Hz. Then we expect to show the same level of entrainment in audio and video conditions set at 2 Hz rate frequency, and in the audio-motor association condition at 2 Hz rate frequency.

Since April 2002, Dr. Marta Matamala-Gomez is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Barcelona, under the Beatriu de Pinòs program. She is currently working on investigating the impact of sonification on the human brain, and how can be applied in neurorehabilitation. She obtained her Ph.D. in Biomedicine (research line: cognitive neuroscience) in 2017 at the University of Barcelona under the supervision of Professors Maria V.Sánchez-Vives and Mel Slater. During her Ph.D. period, she investigated the use of immersive virtual reality in neurorehabilitation and its impact on neuroplasticity in healthy and clinical populations with motor and chronic pain disorders. Her PhD work was graded with excellent-cum laude. The results from two of the main studies of her thesis work lead to the development of a new virtual reality rehabilitation software on the route to commercialization by Virtual Body works S.L. Product: iCORTEX®. On 5 December 2017, the Academic Committee of the Biomedicine program granted permission to display the international doctorate certification. After her Phd, she moved to Italy for four years (2018-2022) at the University Milano Bicocca as a post-doctoral researcher where she was investigating the use of virtual embodiment through multisensory integration techniques in virtual reality to update mental body representation in clinical and healthy populations. In detail, the first year, she was collaborating with the University of Pavia on an Italian multicentre National project “The Telerehabilitation Italian Network for Care Continuity”. Here she also introduced the use of new visual feedback techniques for the modulation of pain perception in patients suffering from chronic migraines. Later, thec andidate won another research grant public competition for the award of one grant for research activities on the theme “New technologies to support multidimensional rehabilitation paths for the management of chronicity”, where she participated in two different national projects for the implementation and design of telerehabilitation strategies using new technologies. Further, she collaborated with the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Milan in investigating the usability and user experience of a VR-based system directed to modify the mental body representation of patients with anorexia nervosa through a full virtual body illusion. She also participates in National and International conferences as an invited speaker to talk about the use of virtual embodiment and sensory techniques for clinical applications: EFIC 2022, Dublin, Ireland; BRNet 2022, Sion, Switzerland; INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON UPDATES ON TELEMEDICINE AND TELESURGERY, SAUDI ARABIA. IEEE SMC 2022, Prague, Czech Republic; I Congreso Internacional de Afrontamiento Activo del Dolor Crónico, Valladolid, Spain; LXXIV Reunión Anual de la SEN 2022, Sevilla, Spain. During her post-doctoral period, she mentored master and PhD students on the experimental design and development of their research studies.

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