University of Southern California
Mrs T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Neural Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory | Research

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Virtual Reality and Brain Computer Interfaces

Virtual Reality and Brain Computer Interfaces

Virtual and augmented reality are promising ways to promote embodiment of avatars different from ourselves. In the case of stroke, we ask whether embodiment of a virtual avatar controlled by one’s brain signals can enhance motor recovery. In healthy individuals, we ask whether virtual reality can enhance learning and decision making. We have several initiatives in this area:

REINVENT

Virtual reality also gives people an opportunity to have a virtual body that’s different from their real body. Studies have shown that if we’re given a body with extra long arms in virtual reality, we act as though we really have long arms in the real world, and if we’re given a child’s body in virtual reality, we show more child-like behaviors. In our project called REINVENT (Rehabilitation Environment using the Integration of Neuromuscular-based Virtual Enhancements for Neural Training), we are trying to give people who have difficulty moving their arm after stroke a healthy body in virtual reality. Their healthy body in VR is controlled using their own brain and muscle activity, so that when their brain tells their arm to move, we take that signal and make their virtual arm move. This project is funded by the American Heart Association, and partners with the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Well-Being, Rancho Los Amigos, and the USC Institute for Creative Technologies Mixed Reality Lab.

Publications:
Anglin, J. M., Sugiyama, T., & Liew, S. L. (2017). Visuomotor adaptation in head-mounted virtual reality versus conventional training. Scientific Reports, 7. Link to full text
Anglin, J., Saldana, D., Schmiesing, A., & Liew, S. L. (2017, March). Transfer of a skilled motor learning task between virtual and conventional environments. In Virtual Reality (VR), 2017 IEEE (pp. 401-402). IEEE.Link to full text

Collaborators:
Ryan Spicer, David Krum (USC ICT MxR); Karolina Lebiecka, Elzbieta Olejarczyk (Warsaw); Bertha Cabral, Remy Chu (Rancho Los Amigos); Tyler Ard (USC Stevens INI); Emiliano Santarnecchi (Harvard)

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USC Stevens

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Funding:
American Heart Association National Innovative Research Grant


Cortically Coupled Computing for Augmented Reality

This project aims to develop combined brain computer interface technology with augmented reality to improve human cognitive processing and decision making abilities.

Collaborators:
David Krum (USC ICT MxR)

Funding:
US Army


Motor Learning in Virtual Reality

Virtual reality technology, such as the Oculus Rift, has recently become commercially affordable and available, and could be an engaging, immersive tool for motor rehabilitation after stroke. Our lab is studying how people learn in virtual reality and how that compares to learning in the real world. We are also studying ways to use virtual reality to help people transfer skills they learn in the clinic
to their home environments.

Publications:
Anglin, J. M., Sugiyama, T., & Liew, S. L. (2017). Visuomotor adaptation in head-mounted virtual reality versus conventional training. Scientific Reports, 7. Link to full text
Anglin, J., Saldana, D., Schmiesing, A., & Liew, S. L. (2017, March). Transfer of a skilled motor learning task between virtual and conventional environments. In Virtual Reality (VR), 2017 IEEE (pp. 401-402). IEEE.Link to full text


Action Observation

The action observation network (AON) is comprised of motor-related brain regions in the premotor and parietal cortices that are active both when we perform an action, and when we simply observe someone else perform an action. This means that we can potentially activate motor-related parts of the brain simply through observation. Our previous work has shown that we activate the AON even for actions we can’t perform or that are challenging or new to us. We thus think that activating the AON through observation can be a way to activate damaged motor brain regions after stroke and could potentially be used to support motor recovery following stroke.

Publications:

Liew, S. L., Sheng, T., Margetis, J. L., & Aziz-Zadeh, L. S. (2013). Both novelty and expertise increase action observation network activity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 541. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00541. Link to full text

Liew, S. L., Sheng, T., & Aziz-Zadeh, L. S. (2013). Experience with an amputee modulates one’s own sensorimotor response during action observation. NeuroImage, 69, 138-145. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.12.028. Link to full text

Garrison, K. A., Aziz-Zadeh, L., Wong, S. W., Liew, S. L., & Winstein, C. J. (2013). Modulating the motor system by action observation after stroke. Stroke, STROKEAHA-113. Link to full text