Mind over Matter
Motor-imagery, or motor-imagination (MI), is a mental rehearsal of a movement and is a unique property of the brain as a mental ability strongly related to the body, or ‘embodied’ cognition . Motor-imagery, appears to share the same control mechanisms and neural substrates with actual movement (both in action execution and action observation), providing a unique opportunity to study neural control of movement in either healthy people or patients , .
The benefits of motor-imagery are also utilized as a technique in neuro-rehabilitation for people with neurological impairments . More recently, motor-imagery offers an essential basis for the development of Brain–Computer Interfaces (BCIs) for physically disabled persons and stroke survivors . BCIs are communication systems capable of establishing an alternative pathway between user’s brain activity and a computer system .
More recently, Virtual Reality (VR) feedback has been used in motor-imagery BCI training, offering a more compelling experience to the user through 3D environments . The fusion of BCI and VR (BCI-VR) allows a wide range of experiences where participants can control various aspects of their environment -either in an explicit or implicit manner-, by using mental imagery alone . This direct brain-to-VR communication can produce induced illusions mostly relying on the sensorimotor contingencies between perception and action .
For this, and based on previous findings , we have developed a novel prototype that makes use of multimodal feedback, in an immersive VR environment delivered through a state-of-the-art Head Mounted Display (HMD), integrated in a MI-BCI motor training task (left | right hand imagery) in a multiplatform setup .
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