The effect of rhythmically synchronous multisensory stimulation on voluntary control of attention, during rehabilitation of patients with visual field deficits.
Brain injury, such as stroke, often causes a sudden disappearance of consciousness for as much as half of the visual field. From the literature we know that rehabilitation to encourage patients to orient attention to their new ‘blind spots’ can cause partial recovery. There is, however, a large gap between the level of exercises in clinical rehabilitation and fundamental research on the role of attention. For example, it is known that audio and visual signals that are in rhythmical synchrony make it much easier for people to control attention. Research has also revealed that learning in the visual domain is very sensitive to simple reward cues. Patients in clinical practice do not benefit from these insights because it remains an open question how our theoretical understanding can be applied optimally to overcome visual field deficits. Novel technology advances, such as mobile and powerful tablets, now provide an opportunity to test fundamental insights. This project has a fundamental and a clinical goal, simultaneously. On the one hand, it advances fundamental behavioural neuroscience research in rhythmically synchronous audio-visual stimulation embedded in active and rewarding game-like tasks. And, on the other hand, it advances interactive, easily accessible and distributable clinical tools, to improve the rehabilitation of visual field deficits.