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Dynamic Changes in Heart Rate and Cerebral Blood Flow During Acute Vagal Nerve Stimulation

Description

Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) has been shown to be a promising therapeutic technique in treating many neurological diseases, including epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and migraine headache. The mechanisms by which VNS acts, however, are not fully understood but may

Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) has been shown to be a promising therapeutic technique in treating many neurological diseases, including epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and migraine headache. The mechanisms by which VNS acts, however, are not fully understood but may involve changes in cerebral blood flow. The vagus nerve plays a significant role in the regulation of heart rate and cerebral blood flow that are altered during VNS. Here, we examined the effects of acute vagal nerve stimulation on both heart rate and cerebral blood flow. Laser Speckle Contrast Analysis (LASCA) was used to analyze the cerebral blood flow of male Long\u2014Evans rats. Results showed two distinct patterns of responses whereby animals either experienced a mild or severe decrease in heart rate during VNS. Further, animals that displayed mild heart rate decreases showed an increase in cerebral blood flow that persisted beyond VNS. Animals that displayed severe decreases showed a transient decrease in cerebral blood flow followed by an increase that was greater than that observed in mild animals but progressively decreased after VNS. The results suggest two distinct patterns of changes in both heart rate and cerebral blood flow that may be related to the intensity of VNS.

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2018-05

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The Role of Precision Grip Aperture in Hardness Differentiation of Cube-Like Objects

Description

Determining the characteristics of an object during a grasping task requires a combination of mechanoreceptors in the muscles and fingertips. The width of a person's finger aperture during the grasp may affect the accuracy of how that person determines hardness,

Determining the characteristics of an object during a grasping task requires a combination of mechanoreceptors in the muscles and fingertips. The width of a person's finger aperture during the grasp may affect the accuracy of how that person determines hardness, as well. These experiments aim to investigate how an individual perceives hardness amongst a gradient of varying hardness levels. The trend in the responses is assumed to follow a general psychometric function. This will provide information about subjects' abilities to differentiate between two largely different objects, and their tendencies towards guess-chances upon the presentation of two similar objects. After obtaining this data, it is then important to additionally test varying finger apertures in an object-grasping task. This will allow an insight into the effect of aperture on the obtained psychometric function, thus ultimately providing information about tactile and haptic feedback for further application in neuroprosthetic devices. Three separate experiments were performed in order to test the effect of finger aperture on object hardness differentiation. The first experiment tested a one-finger pressing motion among a hardness gradient of ballistic gelatin cubes. Subjects were asked to compare the hardness of one cube to another, which produced the S-curve that accurately portrayed the psychometric function. The second experiment utilized the Phantom haptic device in a similar setup, using the precision grip grasping motion, instead. This showed a more linear curve; the percentage reported harder increased as the hardness of the second presented cube increased, which was attributed to both the experimental setup limitations and the scale of the general hardness gradient. The third experiment then progressed to test the effect of three finger apertures in the same experimental setup. By providing three separate testing scenarios in the precision grip task, the experiment demonstrated that the level of finger aperture has no significant effect on an individual's ability to perceive hardness.

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2015-05

Biofeedback Music: A Junction of Music and Neurosignals

Description

Biofeedback music is the integration of physiological signals with audible sound for aesthetic considerations, which an individual’s mental status corresponds to musical output. This project looks into how sounds can be drawn from the meditative and attentive states of the

Biofeedback music is the integration of physiological signals with audible sound for aesthetic considerations, which an individual’s mental status corresponds to musical output. This project looks into how sounds can be drawn from the meditative and attentive states of the brain using the MindWave Mobile EEG biosensor from NeuroSky. With the MindWave and an Arduino microcontroller processor, sonic output is attained by inputting the data collected by the MindWave, and in real time, outputting code that deciphers it into user constructed sound output. The input is scaled from values 0 to 100, measuring the ‘attentive’ state of the mind by observing alpha waves, and distributing this information to the microcontroller. The output of sound comes from sourcing this into the Musical Instrument Shield and varying the musical tonality with different chords and delay of the notes. The manipulation of alpha states highlights the control or lack thereof for the performer and touches on the question of how much control over the output there really is, much like the experimentalist Alvin Lucier displayed with his concepts in brainwave music.

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Date Created
2014-05

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Characterizing the Role of Arm Configuration on Patterns of Movement Variability in 3D Space

Description

Motor behavior is prone to variable conditions and deviates further in disorders affecting the nervous system. A combination of environmental and neural factors impacts the amount of uncertainty. Although the influence of these factors on estimating endpoint positions have been

Motor behavior is prone to variable conditions and deviates further in disorders affecting the nervous system. A combination of environmental and neural factors impacts the amount of uncertainty. Although the influence of these factors on estimating endpoint positions have been examined, the role of limb configuration on endpoint variability has been mostly ignored. Characterizing the influence of arm configuration (i.e. intrinsic factors) would allow greater comprehension of sensorimotor integration and assist in interpreting exaggerated movement variability in patients. In this study, subjects were placed in a 3-D virtual reality environment and were asked to move from a starting position to one of three targets in the frontal plane with and without visual feedback of the moving limb. The alternating of visual feedback during trials increased uncertainty between the planning and execution phases. The starting limb configurations, adducted and abducted, were varied in separate blocks. Arm configurations were setup by rotating along the shoulder-hand axis to maintain endpoint position. The investigation hypothesized: 1) patterns of endpoint variability of movements would be dependent upon the starting arm configuration and 2) any differences observed would be more apparent in conditions that withheld visual feedback. The results indicated that there were differences in endpoint variability between arm configurations in both visual conditions, but differences in variability increased when visual feedback was withheld. Overall this suggests that in the presence of visual feedback, planning of movements in 3D space mostly uses coordinates that are arm configuration independent. On the other hand, without visual feedback, planning of movements in 3D space relies substantially on intrinsic coordinates.

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Date Created
2014-05

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Characterizing the Role of Arm Configuration on Patterns of Movement Variability in 3D Space

Description

Motor behavior is prone to variable conditions and deviates further in disorders affecting the nervous system. A combination of environmental and neural factors impacts the amount of uncertainty. Although the influence of these factors on estimating endpoint positions have been

Motor behavior is prone to variable conditions and deviates further in disorders affecting the nervous system. A combination of environmental and neural factors impacts the amount of uncertainty. Although the influence of these factors on estimating endpoint positions have been examined, the role of limb configuration on endpoint variability has been mostly ignored. Characterizing the influence of arm configuration (i.e. intrinsic factors) would allow greater comprehension of sensorimotor integration and assist in interpreting exaggerated movement variability in patients. In this study, subjects were placed in a 3-D virtual reality environment and were asked to move from a starting position to one of three targets in the frontal plane with and without visual feedback of the moving limb. The alternating of visual feedback during trials increased uncertainty between the planning and execution phases. The starting limb configurations, adducted and abducted, were varied in separate blocks. Arm configurations were setup by rotating along the shoulder-hand axis to maintain endpoint position. The investigation hypothesized: 1) patterns of endpoint variability of movements would be dependent upon the starting arm configuration and 2) any differences observed would be more apparent in conditions that withheld visual feedback. The results indicated that there were differences in endpoint variability between arm configurations in both visual conditions, but differences in variability increased when visual feedback was withheld. Overall this suggests that in the presence of visual feedback, planning of movements in 3D space mostly uses coordinates that are arm configuration independent. On the other hand, without visual feedback, planning of movements in 3D space relies substantially on intrinsic coordinates.

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Date Created
2014-05

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The Role of Retention and Forgetting in Context Dependent Sensorimotor Memory of Dexterous Manipulation

Description

The role of retention and forgetting of context dependent sensorimotor memory of dexterous manipulation was explored. Human subjects manipulated a U-shaped object by switching the handle to be grasped (context) three times, and then came back two weeks later to

The role of retention and forgetting of context dependent sensorimotor memory of dexterous manipulation was explored. Human subjects manipulated a U-shaped object by switching the handle to be grasped (context) three times, and then came back two weeks later to lift the same object in the opposite context relative to that experience on the last block. On each context switch, an interference of the previous block of trials was found resulting in manipulation errors (object tilt). However, no significant re-learning was found two weeks later for the first block of trials (p = 0.826), indicating that the previously observed interference among contexts lasted a very short time. Interestingly, upon switching to the other context, sensorimotor memories again interfered with visually-based planning. This means that the memory of lifting in the first context somehow blocked the memory of lifting in the second context. In addition, the performance in the first trial two weeks later and the previous trial of the same context were not significantly different (p = 0.159). This means that subjects are able to retain long-term sensorimotor memories. Lastly, the last four trials in which subjects switched contexts were not significantly different from each other (p = 0.334). This means that the interference from sensorimotor memories of lifting in opposite contexts was weaker, thus eventually leading to the attainment of steady performance.

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Date Created
2013-05

Role of Proprioceptive and Tactile Feedback in Small Size Discrimination

Description

The human hand relies on information from surrounding environment to distinguish objects based on qualities like size, texture, weight, and compliance. The size of an object can be determined from tactile feedback, proprioception, and visual feedback. This experiment aims to

The human hand relies on information from surrounding environment to distinguish objects based on qualities like size, texture, weight, and compliance. The size of an object can be determined from tactile feedback, proprioception, and visual feedback. This experiment aims to determine the accuracy of size discrimination in physical and virtual objects using proprioceptive and tactile feedback. Using both senses will help determine how much proprioceptive and tactile feedback plays a part in discriminating small size variations and whether replacing a missing sensation will increase the subject's accuracy. Ultimately, determining the specific contributions of tactile and proprioceptive feedback mechanisms during object manipulation is important in order to give prosthetic hand users the ability of stereognosis among other manipulation tasks. Two different experiments using physical and virtual objects were required to discover the roles of tactile and proprioceptive feedback. Subjects were asked to compare the size of one block to a previous object. The blocks increased in size by two millimeter increments and were randomized in order to determine whether subjects could correctly identify if a box was smaller, larger, or the same size as the previous box. In the proprioceptive experiment subjects had two sub-sets of experiments each with a different non-tactile cue. The experiment demonstrated that subjects performed better with physical objects compared to virtual objects. This suggests that size discrimination is possible in the absence of tactile feedback, but tactile input is necessary for accuracy in small size discrimination.

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Date Created
2013-05

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The effects of deep brain stimulation amplitude on motor performance in Parkinson's disease

Description

The efficacy of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in Parkinson's disease (PD) has been convincingly demonstrated in studies that compare motor performance with and without stimulation, but characterization of performance at intermediate stimulation amplitudes has been limited. This study investigated the

The efficacy of deep brain stimulation (DBS) in Parkinson's disease (PD) has been convincingly demonstrated in studies that compare motor performance with and without stimulation, but characterization of performance at intermediate stimulation amplitudes has been limited. This study investigated the effects of changing DBS amplitude in order to assess dose-response characteristics, inter-subject variability, consistency of effect across outcome measures, and day-to-day variability. Eight subjects with PD and bilateral DBS systems were evaluated at their clinically determined stimulation (CDS) and at three reduced amplitude conditions: approximately 70%, 30%, and 0% of the CDS (MOD, LOW, and OFF, respectively). Overall symptom severity and performance on a battery of motor tasks - gait, postural control, single-joint flexion-extension, postural tremor, and tapping - were assessed at each condition using the motor section of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS-III) and quantitative measures. Data were analyzed to determine whether subjects demonstrated a threshold response (one decrement in stimulation resulted in ≥ 70% of the maximum change) or a graded response to reduced stimulation. Day-to-day variability was assessed using the CDS data from the three testing sessions. Although the cohort as a whole demonstrated a graded response on several measures, there was high variability across subjects, with subsets exhibiting graded, threshold, or minimal responses. Some subjects experienced greater variability in their CDS performance across the three days than the change induced by reducing stimulation. For several tasks, a subset of subjects exhibited improved performance at one or more of the reduced conditions. Reducing stimulation did not affect all subjects equally, nor did it uniformly affect each subject's performance across tasks. These results indicate that altered recruitment of neural structures can differentially affect motor capabilities and demonstrate the need for clinical consideration of the effects on multiple symptoms across several days when selecting DBS parameters.

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Date Created
2013

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Development of Automatic Control Software for a Patient Monitoring Camera System

Description

Electroencephalogram (EEG) used simultaneously with video monitoring can record detailed patient physiology during a seizure to aid diagnosis. However, current patient monitoring systems typically require a patient to stay in view of a fixed camera limiting their freedom of movement.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) used simultaneously with video monitoring can record detailed patient physiology during a seizure to aid diagnosis. However, current patient monitoring systems typically require a patient to stay in view of a fixed camera limiting their freedom of movement. The goal of this project is to design an automatic patient monitoring system with software to track patient movement in order to increase a patient's mobility. This report discusses the impact of an automatic patient monitoring system and the design steps used to create and test a functional prototype.

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Date Created
2014-05

Enhancing the perception of speech indexical properties of Cochlear implants through sensory substitution

Description

Through decades of clinical progress, cochlear implants have brought the world of speech and language to thousands of profoundly deaf patients. However, the technology has many possible areas for improvement, including providing information of non-linguistic cues, also called indexical properties

Through decades of clinical progress, cochlear implants have brought the world of speech and language to thousands of profoundly deaf patients. However, the technology has many possible areas for improvement, including providing information of non-linguistic cues, also called indexical properties of speech. The field of sensory substitution, providing information relating one sense to another, offers a potential avenue to further assist those with cochlear implants, in addition to the promise they hold for those without existing aids. A user study with a vibrotactile device is evaluated to exhibit the effectiveness of this approach in an auditory gender discrimination task. Additionally, preliminary computational work is included that demonstrates advantages and limitations encountered when expanding the complexity of future implementations.

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Date Created
2015