Project funded by the NSF
Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center

University of California San Diego

July 22, 2013

John Iversen, Scott Makeig , Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience, Institute for Neural Computation, University of California San Diego, La Jolla CA

Towards EEG-augmented feedback training of temporal perceptual-motor skills

EEG (electroencephalographic) or ‘brainwave’ signals recorded from the human scalp contain faint, ever-varying electrical signals from the brain itself. Results of recent research on interpreting these signals suggest that new training paradigms that include real-time feedback to the trainee about their ongoing brain activity and their brain responses to training events may produce more rapid and effective training. In this project we will explore using EEG-based feedback to augment learning and refinement of an important skill – the ability to clearly perceive the pulse within a complex rhythmic pattern and to produce a precise rhythmic accompaniment to it.

Rhythmic perception and production are central to our understanding of and participation in any meaningful stream of events – for example in music, dance, sports, or language. Our ability to perceive a continuous sense of the periodic pulse or ‘beat’ in music, speech, gestures, and body movements is a fundamental part of our ability to follow, understand, and anticipate these and other streams of events that unfold quickly through time. Our sense of rhythmic pulse guides our timely shifts of attention and motor preparation in our daily activities, and helps us learn, recall, recognize, and produce temporal patterns. Both these skills are essential for learning to use language or any motor skill effectively.

Most children can be trained to accurately perceive the pulse in a complex rhythmic sequence and to produce actions precisely synchronized to the perceived pulse, though this training may need to be lengthy. Here, we will attempt to enhance this training by developing and applying new adaptive training methods that couple ‘hands on’ (and 'ears on') musical rhythm training with audiovisual feedback based on appropriate measures of learner brain activity and behavior. After developing and refining a working paradigm, we will test its ability to enhance learning by children enrolled in the Community Opus musical education program in Chula Vista CA.

This project is funded by the UCSD-centered National Science Foundation (NSF) Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC). It will combine expertise and ongoing research efforts in two UCSD laboratories, the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience (SCCN) and the Center for Human Development (CHD).


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