eMOVING is a project funded by the National Brain Appeal and awarded to Alejandro Galvez-Pol at University College London.

Purpose of the project: To indirectly restore part of the damaged areas of the brain that affect the execution of daily actions in stroke patients. We combine research in neurophysiology and cognitive neurosciences highlighting that observing others’ actions engages (in the perceiver) the same neural areas that are responsible for the execution of those actions -as if those were actually performed. The present project aims to exploit this through the development of a stimulus set of actions (i.e., video clips) that will be implemented in an interactive application as a novel rehabilitative tool.

Based on our previous projects in translational medicine, and recent published work (Galvez-Pol et al., 2018a; Galvez-Pol et al., 2018b; Arslanova et al., 2019), we believe that patients observing and actively interacting with clips depicting actions will improve their motor functions by reactivation of neural areas in the observation-action system. We are working on an interactive software/mobile application, as well as its initial assessment in a group of stroke survivors from the Upper Limb Neurorehabilitation Clinic at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery; run by one of the proponents of this project (Prof. Nick Ward).

 

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Differing from other rehabilitative tools in action observation: a) the stimulus set of clips is mobile; it will be implemented in a software/application that patients can use from anywhere. b) The interactive stimulus set is designed to boost motor recovery. Based the above-mentioned work, brain areas that we use to move/feel our body are recruited to a greater extent when memorising bodily actions than when only seeing these actions. This brain recruitment is associated to the number of actions to-be-remembered; more actions to be-remembered equals greater recruitment.

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Galvez-Pol, A., Calvo-Merino, B., Capilla, A., & Forster, B. (2018). Persistent recruitment of somatosensory cortex during active maintenance of hand images in working memory. Neuroimage, 174, 153-163.
Galvez-Pol, A., Forster, B., & Calvo-Merino, B. (2018). Modulation of motor cortex activity in a visual working memory task of hand images. Neuropsychologia, 117, 75-83.
Arslanova, I., Galvez-Pol, A., Calvo-Merino, B., & Forster, B. (2019). Searching for bodies: ERP evidence for independent somatosensory processing during visual search for body-related information. Neuroimage, 195, 140-149.