Researchers Harness Virtual Reality, Motion Capture to Study Neurological Disorders

Researchers Harness Virtual Reality, Motion Capture to Study Neurological Disorders

[ Music ]>>We’re tracking hand, and
arm, and shoulder movements in this workspace and
measuring electrical impulses from the brain at the scalp. And we can do that in the
context of Alzheimer’s disease, we can do that in the
context of sports concussions, and we can do that
in the context of developmental disorders.>>To develop biomarkers or
neural markers of disease so that we can test
whether given intervention or therapeutic is
actually working.>>Some number of kids with
autism have gait issues. They sometime walk
up on their toes. And those are things that
we can measure really well. MoBI stands for Mobile
Brain Body Imaging. It’s a combination of three
different high-tech systems that we combine in order
to look at brain activity and motion kinematics.>>What our Mobile Brain
Body Imaging system is about it miniaturizing
sensors, getting you walking into an environment and solving
tasks that look like the kinds of tasks that you
solve everyday.>>While they’re walking through
a virtual reality world we can look at their ability to walk
so their kinematics of movement, how variable their steps are,
brain activity, we can also look at their ability to perform
basic cognitive tasks. We have 16 high speed infrared
cameras that reflect off of little markers that we put on
essentially a black body suit. It’s the same motion capture
system technology that’s used in Hollywood for CGI. The camera will pick up all of
those markers and we can track with millimeter precision
where the person is in space. We use high-density
electroencephalography, which is EEG. So we measure electrical
impulses from the brain at the scalp.>>One of the most fundamental
things that the human organism, any organism does, is
it takes information in through your touch and
your site and your sounds and you translate that
information into action. So you’re essentially
doing what we call like a sensory motor
integration.>>There’s competition between
the processes, which allow you to walk well and the processes,
which allow you to think well. We can use this to sort of
reveal underlying problems in the allocation of
cognitive resources because we’re stressing
the system by having people
on the treadmill.>>In autism for example,
we see a lot of children who have a very hard time
taking in sensory information and reacting to it
appropriately. That’s the sort of environment
we’re trying to put people in to challenge them,
get multiple streams of information going at
them and then we can try to understand how attention
is being apportioned, what sort of cognitive motor
interference might be at play.>>We don’t fail
when we’re sitting at a desk typing on a computer. We fall over when we’re
texting on our phones, walking down the street,
thinking about what we’re going to cook for dinner, or
what happened at work. We can bring that real
world situation into the lab so we can control it but
still have people walking around in this virtual
environment and still measuring brain
activity and looking to see how stressing them with difficult cognitive
tasks changes the way that they’re walking.

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