Posts Tagged autism
The brains of a patient and therapist become synchronized during a music therapy session, a breakthrough that could improve future interactions between patients and therapists, researchers suggest.
The research, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, was carried out by Professor Jorg Fachner and Dr Clemens Maidhof of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).
In the study, they used a procedure called hyperscanning, which is designed to record activity in two brains at the same time, allowing them to better understand how people interact.
During the session documented in the study, classical music was played as the patient discussed a serious illness in her family. Both patient and therapist wore EEG (electroencephalogram) caps containing sensors, which capture electrical signals in the brain, and the session was recorded in sync with the EEG using video cameras, a media release from Anglia Ruskin University explains.
Music therapists work towards “moments of change,” where they make a meaningful connection with their patient. At one point during this study, the patient’s brain activity shifted suddenly from displaying deep negative feelings to a positive peak. Moments later, as the therapist realized the session was working, her scan displayed similar results. In subsequent interviews, both identified that as a moment when they felt the therapy was really working.
The researchers examined activity in the brain’s right and left frontal lobes where negative and positive emotions are processed, respectively. By analyzing hyperscanning data alongside video footage and a transcript of the session, the researchers were able to demonstrate that brain synchronization occurs, and also show what a patient-therapist “moment of change” looks like inside the brain.
“This study is a milestone in music therapy research,” says lead author Jorg Fachner, Professor of Music, Health and the Brain at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), in the release.
“Music therapists report experiencing emotional changes and connections during therapy, and we’ve been able to confirm this using data from the brain.
“Music, used therapeutically, can improve well-being, and treat conditions including anxiety, depression, autism and dementia. Music therapists have had to rely on the patient’s response to judge whether this is working, but by using hyperscanning we can see exactly what is happening in the patient’s brain,” he continues.
“Hyperscanning can show the tiny, otherwise imperceptible, changes that take place during therapy. By highlighting the precise points where sessions have worked best, it could be particularly useful when treating patients for whom verbal communication is challenging. Our findings could also help to better understand emotional processing in other therapeutic interactions,” he concludes.
[Source(s): Anglia Ruskin University, Science Daily]
Music therapy works, but no one is really sure how. Now, a novel type of brain scan may provide key insight.
Music is a powerful thing. In fact, it forms the basis of a type of therapy, the aptly named “music therapy.”
During sessions, a music therapist attempts to form a bond with their client in order to enhance well-being and improve confidence, communication skills, awareness, and attention.
There are several types of music therapy. Some involve simply listening to relaxing music while talking. Others involve making music with instruments, which can be particularly effective for those who struggle to communicate verbally.
One type, known as the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) aims to facilitate discussion. The therapist plays music and asks the client to describe the images that come to mind.
Trials have found benefits to music therapy, but how it works remains unclear.
Using GIM as their focus, a team led by two experts from Anglia Ruskin University, in the United Kingdom — Prof. Jörg Fachner and Clemens Maidhof, Ph.D. — set out to find the answer. Their findings appear in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.
Discovering important moments
The goal of a music therapist is to reach a “moment of change” in which they can strengthen their connection with their client. Therapists and clients often describe feeling in sync, and now there is evidence to prove it.
In the current study, the researchers used hyperscanning — a procedure that can simultaneously record two people’s brain activities — to study a music therapist’s session with a client.
The method, says lead author Prof. Fachner, “can show the tiny, otherwise imperceptible, changes that take place during therapy.”
The therapist and client wore EEG caps to record the electrical signaling in their brains, and the session was filmed. Ultimately, the researchers hoped to learn more about how the individuals interacted.
“Music, used therapeutically, can improve well-being and treat conditions including anxiety, depression, autism, and dementia. Music therapists have had to rely on the patient’s response to judge whether this is working, but by using hyperscanning we can see exactly what is happening in the patient’s brain,” says Prof. Fachner.
Once the recordings were complete, the researchers asked the therapist, client, and two other GIM therapy experts to watch the video and each note down three moments of change, as well as one unimportant moment.
A clear connection
The team examined their answers for overlap to see whether any points were of interest to all four participants. A couple of moments fell into this category.
With that knowledge, Prof. Fachner and Maidhof examined the EEG readings from those moments. They paid particular attention to the areas of the brain that process positive and negative emotions.
Surprisingly, they came up with an image that illustrates a moment of change inside the brain.
When the client’s brain switched from negative emotions to positive ones, their EEG recording clearly showcased this. A few moments later, the therapist’s brain showed the exact same pattern.
Both the therapist and client later identified this moment as a point when they felt that the session was working. Not only were their thoughts in sync, but their brain activity, too.
The researchers also noted increased activity in both participants’ visual cortexes during these moments of change.
More effective therapy
It is unlikely that other case studies will provide the exact same results, due to the personalized nature of therapy. But more research will need to go into therapist-client relationships before the synchronicity can be confirmed.
Still, Prof. Fachner described the study as “a milestone in music therapy research.”
“Music therapists report experiencing emotional changes and connections during therapy, and we’ve been able to confirm this using data from the brain.”
Prof. Jörg Fachner
He adds that the study has further implications than just proving a point. He explains, “By highlighting the precise points where sessions have worked best, it could be particularly useful when treating patients for whom verbal communication is challenging.”
The findings could also make music therapy more effective by exposing when and how a therapist should intervene for maximum efficacy.
And, as Prof. Fachner notes, studies such as this may “help [researchers] better understand emotional processing in other therapeutic interactions.”
[WEB SITE] Assisto & VHAB will dramatically change how people with neuromuscular disabilities communicate
April 4, 2019
In our series #TechThursdays, we bring you news about Virtual Rehabilitation (VHAB) and Assisto devices. VHAB, which is based on virtual reality and Assisto, which is on artificial intelligence, are targeted at people with neuromuscular disabilities.
Tech giant Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) are looking to enable people with neuromuscular disabilities in a big way with VHAB (Virtual Rehabilitation) and Assisto. The two devices use the latest available technologies to enhance communication skills.
Assisto addresses the communication difficulties that many people with cerebral palsy face by tuning their voices for better clarity. This is achieved with Algorithm, a speech synthesis. So, when the user speaks, the listener will hear a clearer enunciation.
VHAB, on the other hand, us targeted at children with neuromuscular disabilities like cerebral palsy and autism. Many children diagnosed with disabilities are put through rigorous physiotherapy sessions which can be tiring. VHAB makes these sessions game-based with the help of virtual reality. Gesture analysis, finger-mapping and motion sensors will be used for this.
Both Assisto and VHAB have been successfully tested on children at the Adarsh School in Kochi.
Ashwin Kumar, Principal, Adarsh School believes taht the devices will revolutionize the way people with neuromuscular disabilities communicate.
People with cerebral palsy and autism may have issues with their tongue muscles that can affect communication. Assisto and VHAB devices are definitely going to help them. The software that was developed by TCS was tested on two of our children and it worked really well. In their next phase of the project, they are planning to introduce this to more children and reach out to people who need it.- Ashwin Kumar, Principal, Adarsh School
These devices will also make day-to-day tasks also easier for children with neuromuscular disabilities. The team fine-tuned the devices over three years.
“They provide a gameified app platform and a game environment is created for the user”, says Robin Tommy one of the members of the team that worked on developing them. “It is a combination of physical and game therapies and pain-free as well so kids would love it. The devices aim to enable movements for the user and motivate them to do daily activities with ease. It is mainly based on gesture and motion”.
Seema Lal, Co-founder of TogetherWeCan, a well known parents supports group in Kerala, believes that technologies like these will be game changers for people with disabilities.
‘We often talk about how technology can be a curse when it comes to things like game addiction and so on. At the same time, it can be a boon for children with neuromuscular disabilities. The United Nations is already talking about the benefits of assistive technology for people with disabilities, and in enabling them to participate actively in many things. I believe this new initiative from TCS is brilliant. Communication is the key for any person and technology is truly a boon”, says Lal.
This is a CSR project of TCS and the great news is that it plans to look at ways to introduce Assisto and VHAB in other schools as well as NGOs. VHAB was recently launched at the ZEP Rehabilitation Centre in Pune,
PARIS, France (AFP) — An expert committee of Europe’s medicines watchdog recommended Friday that a drug used to treat epilepsy and linked to malformations in children not be used in pregnancy.
The compound, valproate, is also used for migraine and bipolar disorder, and doctors already advised against prescribing the medicine for pregnant women in France.
France’s medicines regulator, known by the acronym ANSM, asked the London-based European Medicines Agency (EMA) to conduct a risk review.
The EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) said in a statement Friday it was recommending that valproate not be used by pregnant women for any of the three medical conditions.
For women suffering from epilepsy, however, it may be impossible for some to stop after becoming pregnant, it said. These may have to continue treatment, though with “appropriate specialist care”.
The experts also advised against prescribing the drug for women “from the time they become able to have children”, unless using contraception.
Valproate medicines are licenced under different names by national drugs authorities.
The committee recommendations will now go to another body of the EMA, which deals with concerns over drugs that are not centrally authorised in the EU.
Last April, a preliminary study showed that valproate caused “severe malformations” in as many as 4,100 children in France since the drug was first marketed in the country in 1967.
Women who took the drug during pregnancy to treat epilepsy were four times more likely to give birth to babies with congenital malformations, said a report of the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) and the national health insurance administration.
Birth defects included spina bifida — a condition in which the spinal cord does not form properly and can protrude through the skin — as well as defects of the heart and genital organs.
The risk of autism and developmental problems was also found to be higher.
[ARTICLE] Disability, Neurological Diversity, and Inclusive Play: An Examination of the Social and Political Aspects of the Relationship between Disability and Games – Full Text PDF
This article explores existing connections between disability studies and game studies, and suggests how the two fields might greater inform each other. While existing research explores the use of games to reduce pain and achieve rehabilitative goals, new research on games from a disability studies perspective can also consider the persuasive messages that games advance about disability, and how these messages affect questions of identity, inclusion, and acceptance. By arranging the relationship between disability and games into four topics – therapeutic and educational tools, game simulations, accessible features and controls, and narrative inclusion and identification – this article explores, attempts to address, represent, and simulate autism in digital games. It focuses on Auti-Sim (2013), a simulation exercise, and To the Moon (2011), an adventure role-playing game. Drawing on the writings of autistic activists and existing scholarship on disability simulations, the author considers how these games may influence the player’s understanding of autism at social and political levels, and how these artifacts engage with the overarching goals of disability inclusion and autism acceptance.
Apple launched ResearchKit, its iOS-based platform for clinical research, in March with an initial class of five trials focused on a range of health conditions. Nearly seven months later, the tech giant is welcoming three new trials focused on epilepsy, autism, and melanoma.
ResearchKit was designed to upend how medical research is done. Until now, researchers were mostly limited to who they could recruit based on geographic proximity. By moving a clinical trial onto a mobile device like the iPhone, it opens up a goldmine of data for researchers. Within days of the initial launch, the five studies had thousands of new participants with a diversity of location, background, age and health. That trend has continued, Apple said, helped by more efficient on-boarding via streamlined informed consent and the wealth of data collected by connected devices.
“Researchers have been able to get infinitely richer data sets than before,” said Bud Tribble, MD, PhD, vice president of software engineering at Apple. “Apple has helped accelerate medical research by creating a simple way for scientists to greatly expand the scope of their studies, and this is critical to helping researchers succeed.”
Apple doesn’t directly design the apps. That is all done by the academic and medical institutions running the studies. Instead, the company focuses on providing an open-source framework that’s specially designed for medical and health research. All of which takes advantage of the iPhone’s accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope and camera. One of the latest studies even builds in the Apple Watch.
Below are the three latest studies launching on ResearchKit and what they hope to achieve.