The human ability to perceive and understand the surrounding world relies essentially on multisensory integration. Exploiting recent methodological advancements, several neuroimaging studies suggested that multisensory integration emerges from a dynamic interplay of distributed regions operating in large-scale networks. Nonetheless, the cortical structures and neuronal networks underlying the development of multisensory perception and plasticity, throughout the life span, have not yet been studied in detail. A special case of multisensory training is musical training, which utilizes stimulus’ structural complexity, as well as the emotional drive that music is generating to the subjects, in order to induce augmented neuroplastic effects.
Retaining the extensive neuroplastic characteristics of music training, MusicPlast will develop, investigate and deliver a computer provided multisensory training protocol that aims to induce neuroplastic changes in frontotemporal cortical areas. More specifically, the goal of the proposed project is threefold:
- the in-depth understanding and modeling of the developmental trajectory of the cortical networks underlying multisensory perception,
- the modeling of the developmental trajectory of the cortical networks underlying multisensory plasticity throughout the life span of healthy subjects; and
- the translation of this model in a computer provided multisensory training intervention protocol, which will cause beneficial neuroplastic changes in pathological populations.
Electroencephalographic, behavioral and neuropsychological measurements, and advanced data analysis procedures, pre- and post the training application are going to be employed in order to evaluate the resulting neuroplasticity holistically. The proposed protocol will also be translated into an applied intervention for 2 groups of pathological population, for which there are strong evidence that a multisensory cognitive training based on music may provide beneficial neuroplastic changes: elderlies suffering from mild cognitive Impairment and adolescents with dyslexia.
The project will be performed in the Laboratory of Medical Physics of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, offering the opportunity for the results to be integrated with the existing database of the laboratory and hence, to be compared with data obtained from cognitive and physical interventions, which do not use multisensory integration, and are applied in similar populations, augmenting thus the scientific impact of MusicPlast.