ResearchPad - human-neuroscience Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Resting State EEG in Exercise Intervention Studies: A Systematic Review of Effects and Methods]]> Background: Exercise has been shown to alter brain plasticity and is explored as a therapeutic intervention in a wide variety of neurological diseases. Electroencephalography (EEG) offers an inexpensive method of studying brain electrocortical activity shortly after exercise and thus offers a way of exploring the influence of exercise on the brain. We conducted a systematic review to summarize the current body of evidence regarding methods of EEG analysis and the reported effects of exercise interventions on EEG.

Methods: PubMed, Web of Science and EMBASE were searched for studies investigating resting state EEG in exercise intervention studies carried out in participants >17 years of age and with no history of epilepsy. Further, studies solely investigating event-related potentials as an outcome measure were excluded. Relevant data were extracted, and a risk-of-bias assessment was carried out using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool. A qualitative synthesis of results was carried out. A protocol for the systematic review was uploaded to (ID: CRD42019134570) and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews (PRISMA) statement was followed.

Results: Out of 1,993 records screened, 54 studies were included in a final qualitative synthesis with a total of 1,445 participants. Our synthesis showed that studies were mainly carried out using frequency analysis as an analytical method. Generally, findings across studies were inconsistent and few were adjusted for multiple comparisons. Studies were mainly of low quality and usually carried out in small populations, lowering the significance of results reported.

Conclusions: Changes in the EEG as a result of an exercise intervention are elusive and difficult to replicate. Future studies should provide biologically sound hypotheses underlying assumptions, include larger populations and use standardized EEG methods to increase replicability. EEG remains an interesting methodology to examine the effects of exercise on the brain.

<![CDATA[Speech-Induced Suppression for Delayed Auditory Feedback in Adults Who Do and Do Not Stutter]]> Speech-induced suppression is the normal, relative amplitude reduction of the auditory evoked potential for self-, compared to externally-generated, auditory stimulation. It remains controversial as to whether adults who stutter exhibit expected auditory modulation during speech; some studies have reported a significant difference between stuttering and fluent groups in speech-induced suppression during speech movement planning, while others have not. We compared auditory evoked potentials (N1 component) for auditory feedback arising from one’s own voice (Speaking condition) with passive listening to a recording of one’s own voice (Listening condition) in 24 normally-fluent speakers and 16 adults who stutter under various delayed auditory feedback (DAF) time conditions (100 ms, 200 ms, 500 ms, and 1,000 ms). We presented the participant’s own voice with a delay, immediately after presenting it without a delay. Our working hypothesis was that the shorter the delay time, the more likely the delayed sound is perceived as self-generated. Therefore, shorter delay time conditions are proposed to result in relatively enhanced suppression of the auditory system. Results showed that in fluent speakers, the shorter the delay time, the more the auditory evoked potential in the Speaking condition tended to be suppressed. In the Listening condition, there was a larger evoked potential with shorter delay times. As a result, speech-induced suppression was only significant at the short delay time conditions of 100 and 200 ms. Adults who stutter did not show the opposing changes in the Speaking and Listening conditions seen in the fluent group. Although the evoked potential in the Listening condition tended to decrease as the delay time increased, that in the Speaking condition did not show a distinct trend, and there was a significant suppression only at 200 ms delay. For the 200 ms delay condition, speakers with more severe stuttering showed significantly greater speech-induced suppression than those with less severe stuttering. This preliminary study suggests our methods for investigating evoked potentials by presenting own voice with a delay may provide a clue as to the nature of auditory modulation in stuttering.

<![CDATA[Investigating the Added Value of FreeSurfer’s Manual Editing Procedure for the Study of the Reading Network in a Pediatric Population]]> Insights into brain anatomy are important for the early detection of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as dyslexia. FreeSurfer is one of the most frequently applied automatized software tools to study brain morphology. However, quality control of the outcomes provided by FreeSurfer is often ignored and could lead to wrong statistical inferences. Additional manual editing of the data may be a solution, although not without a cost in time and resources. Past research in adults on comparing the automatized method of FreeSurfer with and without additional manual editing indicated that although editing may lead to significant differences in morphological measures between the methods in some regions, it does not substantially change the sensitivity to detect clinical differences. Given that automated approaches are more likely to fail in pediatric—and inherently more noisy—data, we investigated in the current study whether FreeSurfer can be applied fully automatically or additional manual edits of T1-images are needed in a pediatric sample. Specifically, cortical thickness and surface area measures with and without additional manual edits were compared in six regions of interest (ROIs) of the reading network in 5-to-6-year-old children with and without dyslexia. Results revealed that additional editing leads to statistical differences in the morphological measures, but that these differences are consistent across subjects and that the sensitivity to reveal statistical differences in the morphological measures between children with and without dyslexia is not affected, even though conclusions of marginally significant findings can differ depending on the method used. Thereby, our results indicate that additional manual editing of reading-related regions in FreeSurfer has limited gain for pediatric samples.

<![CDATA[Most Common Publication Types of Neuroimaging Literature: Papers With High Levels of Evidence Are on the Rise]]> Objective: This study evaluated the bibliometric data of the most common publication types of the neuroimaging literature.

Methods: PubMed was searched to identify all published papers with “neuroimaging” as their MeSH Major Topics, and they were further searched by the following publication types: case report, clinical trial, comparative study, editorial, evaluation study, guideline, meta-analysis, multicenter study, randomized controlled trial, review, technical report, and validation study. The proportion of papers belonging to each publication type published in neuroimaging journals was calculated. Year-adjusted mean citation counts for each publication type were computed using data from Web of Science. Publication trend and its correlation with citation performance were assessed.

Results: Review and comparative study were the most common publication types. Publication types with the highest proportion in neuroimaging journals were guideline, validation study, and technical reports. Since the year 2000, multicenter study, review, and meta-analysis showed the strongest linear increase in annual publication count. These publication types also had the highest year-adjusted citation counts (4.7–10.0). Publication types with the lowest year-adjusted citation counts were editorial and case report (0.5–1.0). It was estimated that 12.5% of the publications labeled as case reports were incorrectly labeled.

Conclusions: Neuroimaging literature has been expanding with papers of higher levels of evidence, such as meta-analyses, multicenter studies, and randomized controlled trials.

<![CDATA[Cortical Activation Patterns of Different Masking Noises and Correlation With Their Masking Efficacy, Determined by Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy]]> Acoustic therapy in tinnitus treatment is poorly characterized, and efficacy assessment depends on subjective descriptions. Narrow-band noise, notched sound, and white noise have positive therapeutic effects on monotonous tinnitus. Considering the tonotopic characteristics of the auditory system and the spectral characteristics of these three masking sounds, the activation pattern of the auditory cortex and the mechanism of inhibiting tinnitus may be different. This study aimed to compare the activation patterns of three spectrally different masking noises and study the correlation between the masking effects and variational amplitude of oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO) in the corresponding cortical regions. We also assessed near-infrared spectroscopy brain function imaging (NIRS) as an objective assessment tool in acoustic therapy. Patients with persistent non-pulsatile tinnitus and control volunteers without tinnitus were enrolled in this study. The subjects were seated in a sound-proof room, with two optode arrays covering the bilateral temporal lobe. Auditory stimuli were presented; stimulation sequences followed the block design: different noises appeared randomly and repeated in five cycles. Tinnitus match and residual inhibition were performed in the tinnitus group. The data analyses were conducted using the NIRS_SPM toolbox. The group analysis results showed that the narrow-band noise caused a marginally significant decrease in HbO signal in the Brodmann 21 region (BA21), while white noise caused a significant increase in HbO signal in BA21. Notched sound did not cause significant changes in the HbO signal in the temporal cortex. And none of the three masking noises caused significant changes in the HbR signal in the temporal cortex. The depth of residual inhibition induced by the narrow-band noise and white noise significantly correlated with ΔHbO in the region of interest (ROI). However, neither the depth nor duration of the residual inhibition induced by notched sound correlated with the ΔHbO. Thus, NIRS showed three cortical activation patterns induced by three different masking noises, and correlations between residual inhibition effects and change of HbO amplitude were found. NIRS could therefore be applied in objective assessment of acoustic therapy.

<![CDATA[Using fMRI to Assess Brain Activity in People With Down Syndrome: A Systematic Review]]> Background: In the last few years, many investigations have focused on brain activity in general and in populations with different pathologies using non-invasive techniques such as electroencefalography (EEG), positron emission tomography (PET), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, the use of non-invasive techniques to detect brain signals to evaluate the cognitive activity of people with Down syndrome (DS) has not been sufficiently addressed. The objective of this study is to describe the state-of-the-art in fMRI techniques for recording brain signals in people with DS.

Method: A systematic review was performed based on PRISMA recommendations; only nine papers on this topic have been published. Three independent researchers selected all relevant information from each paper. Analyses of information concordance showed a high value of agreement between researchers.

Results: Although few relevant works have been published, the use of fMRI in people with DS is becoming an appropriate option to study brain function in this population. Of the nine identified papers, five used task designs, and four used resting-state paradigms.

Conclusion: Thus, we emphasize the need to incorporate rigorous cognitive activity procedures in evaluations of the DS population. We suggest several factors (such as head correction movements and paired sample techniques) that must be considered when designing an fMRI study with a task or a resting-state paradigm in a DS population.

<![CDATA[Neural Population Dynamics and Cognitive Function]]>

Representations in the brain are encoded as patterns of activity of large populations of neurons. The science of population encoded representations, also known as parallel distributed processing (PDP), achieves neurological verisimilitude and has been able to account for a large number of cognitive phenomena in normal people, including reaction times (and reading latencies), stimulus recognition, the effect of stimulus salience on attention, perceptual invariance, simultaneous egocentric and allocentric visual processing, top-down/bottom-up processing, language errors, the effect of statistical regularities of experience, frequency, and age of acquisition, instantiation of rules and symbols, content addressable memory and the capacity for pattern completion, preservation of function in the face of noisy or distorted input, inference, parallel constraint satisfaction, the binding problem and gamma coherence, principles of hippocampal function, the location of knowledge in the brain, limitations in the scope and depth of knowledge acquired through experience, and Piagetian stages of cognitive development. PDP studies have been able to provide a coherent account for impairment in a variety of language functions resulting from stroke or dementia in a large number of languages and the phenomenon of graceful degradation observed in such studies. They have also made important contributions to our understanding of attention (including hemispatial neglect), emotional function, executive function, motor planning, visual processing, decision making, and neuroeconomics. The relationship of neural network population dynamics to electroencephalographic rhythms is starting to emerge. Nevertheless, PDP approaches have scarcely penetrated major areas of study of cognition, including neuropsychology and cognitive neuropsychology, as well as much of cognitive psychology. This article attempts to provide an overview of PDP principles and applications that addresses a broader audience.

<![CDATA[Multi-session Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Over Primary Motor Cortex Facilitates Sequence Learning, Chunking, and One Year Retention]]>

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the primary motor cortex (M1) can facilitate motor learning, but it has not been established how stimulation to other brain regions impacts online and offline motor sequence learning, as well as long-term retention. Here, we completed three experiments comparing the effects of tDCS and sham stimulation to the prefrontal cortex (PFC), M1, and the supplementary motor area complex to understand the contributions of these brain regions to motor sequence learning. In Experiment 1, we found that both left and right PFC tDCS groups displayed a slowing in learning in both reaction time and number of chunks, whereas stimulation over M1 improved both metrics over the course of three sessions. To better understand the sequence learning impairment of left PFC anodal stimulation, we tested a left PFC cathodal tDCS group in Experiment 2. The cathodal group demonstrated learning impairments similar to the left PFC anodal stimulation group. In Experiment 3, a subset of participants from the left PFC, M1, and sham tDCS groups of Experiment 1 returned to complete a single session without tDCS on the same sequences assigned to them 1 year previously. We found that the M1 tDCS group reduced reaction time at a faster rate relative to the sham and left PFC groups, demonstrating faster relearning after a one-year delay. Thus, our findings suggest that, regardless of the polarity of stimulation, tDCS to PFC impairs sequence learning, whereas stimulation to M1 facilitates learning and relearning, especially in terms of chunk formation.

<![CDATA[The Weakened Relationship Between Prestimulus Alpha Oscillations and Response Time in Older Adults With Mild Cognitive Impairment]]>

Background: Prestimulus alpha oscillations associated with preparatory attention have an impact on response time (RT). However, little is known about whether there is a deficit in the relationship between prestimulus alpha oscillations and RT in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Method: We collected electroencephalography (EEG) data from 28 older adults with MCI and 28 demographically matched healthy controls (HCs) when they were performing an Eriksen flanker task. For each participant, single-trial prestimulus alpha power was calculated for combinations of congruency (congruent vs. incongruent) and response speed (fast vs. slow).

Result: Statistical analysis indicated that prestimulus alpha power was significantly lower for fast trials than slow trials in HCs but not in older adults with MCI. The Fisher’s z scores of the within-subject correlation coefficients between single-trial prestimulus alpha power and RT were significantly larger in HCs than in older adults with MCI. In addition, machine learning analyses indicated that prestimulus alpha power and its correlation with RT could serve as features to distinguish older adults with MCI from HCs and to predict performance on some neuropsychological tests.

Conclusion: The reduced correlation between prestimulus alpha activity and RT suggests that older adults with MCI experience impaired preparatory attention.

<![CDATA[Functional Brain Connectivity of Language Functions in Children Revealed by EEG and MEG: A Systematic Review]]>

The development of language functions is of great interest to neuroscientists, as these functions are among the fundamental capacities of human cognition. For many years, researchers aimed at identifying cerebral correlates of language abilities. More recently, the development of new data analysis tools has generated a shift toward the investigation of complex cerebral networks. In 2015, Weiss-Croft and Baldeweg published a very interesting systematic review on the development of functional language networks, explored through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Compared to fMRI and because of their excellent temporal resolution, magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG) provide different and important information on brain activity. Both therefore constitute crucial neuroimaging techniques for the investigation of the maturation of functional language brain networks. The main objective of this systematic review is to provide a state of knowledge on the investigation of language-related cerebral networks in children, through the use of EEG and MEG, as well as a detailed portrait of relevant MEG and EEG data analysis methods used in that specific research context. To do so, we have summarized the results and systematically compared the methodological approach of 24 peer-reviewed EEG or MEG scientific studies that included healthy children and children with or at high risk of language disabilities, from birth up to 18 years of age. All included studies employed functional and effective connectivity measures, such as coherence, phase locking value, and Phase Slope Index, and did so using different experimental paradigms (e.g., at rest or during language-related tasks). This review will provide more insight into the use of EEG and MEG for the study of language networks in children, contribute to the current state of knowledge on the developmental path of functional connectivity in language networks during childhood and adolescence, and finally allow future studies to choose the most appropriate type of connectivity analysis.

<![CDATA[Verbal Working Memory as Emergent from Language Comprehension and Production]]>

This article reviews current models of verbal working memory and considers the role of language comprehension and long-term memory in the ability to maintain and order verbal information for short periods of time. While all models of verbal working memory posit some interaction with long-term memory, few have considered the character of these long-term representations or how they might affect performance on verbal working memory tasks. Similarly, few models have considered how comprehension processes and production processes might affect performance in verbal working memory tasks. Modern theories of comprehension emphasize that people learn a vast web of correlated information about the language and the world and must activate that information from long-term memory to cope with the demands of language input. To date, there has been little consideration in theories of verbal working memory for how this rich input from comprehension would affect the nature of temporary memory. There has also been relatively little attention to the degree to which language production processes naturally manage serial order of verbal information. The authors argue for an emergent model of verbal working memory supported by a rich, distributed long-term memory for language. On this view, comprehension processes provide encoding in verbal working memory tasks, and production processes maintenance, serial ordering, and recall. Moreover, the computational capacity to maintain and order information varies with language experience. Implications for theories of working memory, comprehension, and production are considered.

<![CDATA[Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex Has No Specific Effect on Self-referential Processes]]>

The processing of self-referential information can be influenced by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The present randomized controlled study investigated whether similar effects can be elicited through the application of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) regarding the “self-serving bias” (SSB) and the “mnemic neglect effect” (MNE). Seventy-five healthy males (Mage = 25; SD = 4.3) were investigated in a between-groups design with random assignment by applying anodal, cathodal, or sham tDCS to the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). After stimulation, the participants judged if 80 personality traits (40 positive, 40 negative) were self-descriptive or not. Finally, the participants had to recall the previously presented adjectives. All three stimulation groups showed the expected SSB and MNE. Still, and contrary to our hypotheses, tDCS revealed neither a significant interaction effect between groups and valence concerning the number of chosen self-referential traits (F(2,72) = 1.36, p = 0.26, ηG2 = 0.02) nor an interaction effect between groups, valence, and self-reference concerning the percentage of recalled words (F(2,71) = 0.69, p = 0.50, ηG2 = 0.01). However, a post hoc inspection of effect sizes revealed that less negative traits were indicated as self-referential in the anodal compared to the cathodal group (ES: −0.59; CI: −1.16 to −0.03). Moreover, the participants showed—regardless of self-reference and type of stimulation—a better recall with tDCS in comparison to sham stimulation. Our results indicate that tDCS of the mPFC in healthy young men has no influence on the SSB and the MNE. However, tDCS seems to improve memory performance.

<![CDATA[Theta- and Gamma-Band Activity Discriminates Face, Body and Object Perception]]>

Face and body perception is mediated by configural mechanisms, which allow the perception of these stimuli as a whole, rather than the sum of individual parts. Indirect measures of configural processing in visual cognition are the face and body inversion effects (FIE and BIE), which refer to the drop in performance when these stimuli are perceived upside-down. Albeit FIE and BIE have been well characterized at the behavioral level, much still needs to be understood in terms of the neurophysiological correlates of these effects. Thus, in the current study, the brain’s electrical activity has been recorded by a 128 channel electroencephalogram (EEG) in 24 healthy participants while perceiving (upright and inverted) faces, bodies and houses. EEG data were analyzed in both the time domain (i.e., event-related potentials—ERPs) and the frequency domain [i.e., induced theta (5–7 Hz) and gamma (28–45 Hz) oscillations]. ERPs amplitude results showed increased N170 amplitude for inverted faces and bodies (compared to the same stimuli presented in canonical position) but not for houses. ERPs latency results showed delayed N170 components for inverted (vs. upright) faces, houses, but not bodies. Spectral analysis of induced oscillations indicated physiological FIE and BIE; that is decreased gamma-band synchronization over right occipito-temporal electrodes for inverted (vs. upright) faces, and increased bilateral frontoparietal theta-band synchronization for inverted (vs. upright) faces. Furthermore, increased left occipito-temporal and right frontal theta-band synchronization for upright (vs. inverted) bodies was found. Our findings, thus, demonstrate clear differences in the neurophysiological correlates of face and body perception. The neurophysiological FIE suggests disruption of feature binding processes (decrease in occipital gamma oscillations for inverted faces), together with enhanced feature-based attention (increase in frontoparietal theta oscillations for inverted faces). In contrast, the BIE may suggest that structural encoding for bodies is mediated by the first stages of configural processing (decrease in occipital theta oscillations for inverted bodies).

<![CDATA[Visual Feedback Modulates Aftereffects and Electrophysiological Markers of Prism Adaptation]]>

Prism adaptation (PA) is both a model for visuomotor learning and a promising treatment for visuospatial neglect after stroke. The task involves reaching for targets while prism glasses horizontally displace the visual field. Adaptation is hypothesized to occur through two processes: strategic recalibration, a rapid self-correction of pointing errors; and spatial realignment, a more gradual adjustment of visuomotor reference frames that produce prism aftereffects (i.e., reaching errors upon glasses removal in the direction opposite to the visual shift). While aftereffects can ameliorate neglect, not all patients respond to PA, and the neural mechanisms underlying successful adaptation are unclear. We investigated the feedback-related negativity (FRN) and the P300 event-related potential (ERP) components as candidate markers of strategic recalibration and spatial realignment, respectively. Healthy young adults wore prism glasses and performed memory-guided reaching toward vertical-line targets. ERPs were recorded in response to three different between-subject error feedback conditions at screen-touch: view of hand and target (Experiment 1), view of hand only (Experiment 2), or view of lines to mark target and hand position (view of hand occluded; Experiment 3). Conditions involving a direct view of the hand-produced stronger aftereffects than indirect hand feedback, and also evoked a P300 that decreased in amplitude as adaptation proceeded. Conversely, the FRN was only seen in conditions involving target feedback, even when aftereffects were smaller. Since conditions producing stronger aftereffects were associated with a phase-sensitive P300, this component may index a “context-updating” realignment process critical for strong aftereffects, whereas the FRN may reflect an error monitoring process related to strategic recalibration.

<![CDATA[Usability Issues of Clinical and Research Applications of Virtual Reality in Older People: A Systematic Review]]>

Aging is a condition that may be characterized by a decline in physical, sensory, and mental capacities, while increased morbidity and multimorbidity may be associated with disability. A wide range of clinical conditions (e.g., frailty, mild cognitive impairment, metabolic syndrome) and age-related diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, cancer, sarcopenia, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases) affect older people. Virtual reality (VR) is a novel and promising tool for assessment and rehabilitation in older people. Usability is a crucial factor that must be considered when designing virtual systems for medicine. We conducted a systematic review with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines concerning the usability of VR clinical systems in aging and provided suggestions to structure usability piloting. Findings show that different populations of older people have been recruited to mainly assess usability of non-immersive VR, with particular attention paid to motor/physical rehabilitation. Mixed approach (qualitative and quantitative tools together) is the preferred methodology; technology acceptance models are the most applied theoretical frameworks, however senior adapted models are the best within this context. Despite minor interaction issues and bugs, virtual systems are rated as usable and feasible. We encourage usability and user experience pilot studies to ameliorate interaction and improve acceptance and use of VR clinical applications in older people with the aid of suggestions (VR-USOP) provided by our analysis.

<![CDATA[Corrigendum: Variability in Executive Control Performance Is Predicted by Physical Activity]]> ]]> <![CDATA[Transcutaneous Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation-Paired Rehabilitation for Oromotor Feeding Problems in Newborns: An Open-Label Pilot Study]]>

Neonates born premature or who suffer brain injury at birth often have oral feeding dysfunction and do not meet oral intake requirements needed for discharge. Low oral intake volumes result in extended stays in the hospital (>2 months) and can lead to surgical implant and explant of a gastrostomy tube (G-tube). Prior work suggests pairing vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) with motor activity accelerates functional improvements after stroke, and transcutaneous auricular VNS (taVNS) has emerged as promising noninvasive form of VNS. Pairing taVNS with bottle-feeding rehabilitation may improve oromotor coordination and lead to improved oral intake volumes, ultimately avoiding the need for G-tube placement. We investigated whether taVNS paired with oromotor rehabilitation is tolerable and safe and facilitates motor learning in infants who have failed oral feeding. We enrolled 14 infants [11 premature and 3 hypoxic–ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)] who were slated for G-tube placement in a prospective, open-label study of taVNS-paired rehabilitation to increase feeding volumes. Once-daily taVNS was delivered to the left tragus during bottle feeding for 2 weeks, with optional extension. The primary outcome was attainment of oral feeding volumes and weight gain adequate for discharge without G-tube while also monitoring discomfort and heart rate (HR) as safety outcomes. We observed no adverse events related to stimulation, and stimulation-induced HR reductions were transient and safe and likely confirmed vagal engagement. Eight of 14 participants (57%) achieved adequate feeding volumes for discharge without G-tube (mean treatment length: 16 ± 6 days). We observed significant increases in feeding volume trajectories in responders compared with pre-stimulation (p < 0.05). taVNS-paired feeding rehabilitation appears safe and may improve oral feeding in infants with oromotor dyscoordination, increasing the rate of discharge without G-tube, warranting larger controlled trials.

<![CDATA[The Hippocampal Barque: An Epileptiform but Non-epileptic Hippocampal Entity]]> ]]> <![CDATA[Cognitive Mapping Without Vision: Comparing Wayfinding Performance After Learning From Digital Touchscreen-Based Multimodal Maps vs. Embossed Tactile Overlays]]>

This article starts by discussing the state of the art in accessible interactive maps for use by blind and visually impaired (BVI) people. It then describes a behavioral experiment investigating the efficacy of a new type of low-cost, touchscreen-based multimodal interface, called a vibro-audio map (VAM), for supporting environmental learning, cognitive map development, and wayfinding behavior on the basis of nonvisual sensing. In the study, eight BVI participants learned two floor-maps of university buildings, one using the VAM and the other using an analogous hardcopy tactile map (HTM) overlaid on the touchscreen. They were asked to freely explore each map, with the task of learning the entire layout and finding three hidden target locations. After meeting a learning criterion, participants performed an environmental transfer test, where they were brought to the corresponding physical layout and were asked to plan/navigate routes between learned target locations from memory, i.e., without access to the map used at learning. The results using Bayesian analyses aimed at assessing equivalence showed highly similar target localization accuracy and route efficiency performance between conditions, suggesting that the VAM supports the same level of environmental learning, cognitive map development, and wayfinding performance as is possible from interactive displays using traditional tactile map overlays. These results demonstrate the efficacy of the VAM for supporting complex spatial tasks without vision using a commercially available, low-cost interface and open the door to a new era of mobile interactive maps for spatial learning and wayfinding by BVI navigators.

<![CDATA[The Effectiveness of Home-Based Training Software Designed to Influence Strategic Navigation Preferences in Healthy Subjects]]>

One approach to the rehabilitation of navigation impairments is to train the use of compensatory egocentric or allocentric navigation strategies. Yet, it is unknown whether and to what degree training programs can influence strategic navigation preferences. In validating this approach, the key assumption that strategic preference can be changed by using a navigation training was assessed in a group of healthy participants (n = 82). The training program consisted of a psychoeducation session and a software package that included either allocentric or egocentric navigation exercises in virtual environments. Strategic navigation preference, objective and self-reported spatial abilities were assessed in pre- and post-training sessions. Based on their pre-training strategic preference, participants received either the egocentric training (n = 19) or the allocentric training (n = 21) version of the training. These participants engaged in four training sessions over a period of 2–3 weeks. The second group of participants did not use the training software (n = 43) and served as a control group. The results show that 50% of participants that received the egocentric training shifted from an allocentric to and an egocentric strategic preference. The proportion of participants that switched their strategic preference as a result of the allocentric training was identical to this proportion in the control group (19%). The training did not affect objective and self-reported navigation abilities as measured in the pre- and post-training sessions. We conclude that strategic navigation preferences can be influenced by using home-based training in healthy participants. However, using the current approach, only a preference shift from an allocentric to an egocentric navigation strategy could be achieved. The effectiveness of this navigation strategy training should next be assessed in relevant patient populations.