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A semi-immersive virtual reality incremental swing balance task activates prefrontal cortex: a functional near-infrared spectroscopy study

Basso Moro, Sara, Bisconti, Silvia, Muthalib, Makii, Spezialetti, Matteo, Cutini, Simone, Ferrari, Marco, Placidi, Giuseppe and Quaresima, Valentina 2014, A semi-immersive virtual reality incremental swing balance task activates prefrontal cortex: a functional near-infrared spectroscopy study, NeuroImage, vol. 85, no. Part 1, pp. 451-460, doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.031.

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Title A semi-immersive virtual reality incremental swing balance task activates prefrontal cortex: a functional near-infrared spectroscopy study
Author(s) Basso Moro, Sara
Bisconti, Silvia
Muthalib, Makii
Spezialetti, Matteo
Cutini, Simone
Ferrari, Marco
Placidi, Giuseppe
Quaresima, Valentina
Journal name NeuroImage
Volume number 85
Issue number Part 1
Start page 451
End page 460
Total pages 10
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2014-01-15
ISSN 1053-8119
Keyword(s) 3 dimensional
Brodmann Areas
Cortical oxygenation
Functional near-infrared spectroscopy
International Consortium for Brain Mapping
Prefrontal cortex
State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
Swing balance task
Virtual reality
center of mass
center of pressure
control swing balance task
deoxygenated hemoglobin
functional magnetic resonance
functional near infrared spectroscopy
heart rate
incremental swing balance task
laterality index
oxygenated hemoglobin
postural instability
Analysis of Variance
Brain Mapping
Cerebrovascular Circulation
Computer Graphics
Data Interpretation, Statistical
Functional Laterality
Functional Neuroimaging
Oxygen Consumption
Postural Balance
Psychomotor Performance
Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared
User-Computer Interface
Summary Previous functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) studies indicated that the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is involved in the maintenance of the postural balance after external perturbations. So far, no studies have been conducted to investigate the PFC hemodynamic response to virtual reality (VR) tasks that could be adopted in the field of functional neurorehabilitation. The aim of this fNIRS study was to assess PFC oxygenation response during an incremental and a control swing balance task (ISBT and CSBT, respectively) in a semi-immersive VR environment driven by a depth-sensing camera. It was hypothesized that: i) the PFC would be bilaterally activated in response to the increase of the ISBT difficulty, as this cortical region is involved in the allocation of attentional resources to maintain postural control; and ii) the PFC activation would be greater in the right than in the left hemisphere considering its dominance for visual control of body balance. To verify these hypotheses, 16 healthy male subjects were requested to stand barefoot while watching a 3 dimensional virtual representation of themselves projected onto a screen. They were asked to maintain their equilibrium on a virtual blue swing board susceptible to external destabilizing perturbations (i.e., randomizing the forward-backward direction of the impressed pulse force) during a 3-min ISBT (performed at four levels of difficulty) or during a 3-min CSBT (performed constantly at the lowest level of difficulty of the ISBT). The center of mass (COM), at each frame, was calculated and projected on the floor. When the subjects were unable to maintain the COM over the board, this became red (error). After each error, the time required to bring back the COM on the board was calculated (returning time). An eight-channel continuous wave fNIRS system was employed for measuring oxygenation changes (oxygenated-hemoglobin, O2Hb; deoxygenated-hemoglobin, HHb) related to the PFC activation (Brodmann Areas 10, 11 and 46). The results have indicated that the errors increased between the first and the second level of difficulty of the ISBT, then decreased and remained constant; the returning time progressively increased during the first three levels of difficulty and then remained constant. During the CSBT, the errors and the returning time did not change. In the ISBT, the increase of the first three levels of difficulty was accompanied by a progressive increase in PFC O2Hb and a less consistent decrease in HHb. A tendency to plateau was observable for PFC O2Hb and HHb changes in the fourth level of difficulty of the ISBT, which could be partly explained by a learning effect. A right hemispheric lateralization was not found. A lower amplitude of increase in O2Hb and decrease in HHb was found in the PFC in response to the CSBT with respect to the ISBT. This study has demonstrated that the oxygenation increased over the PFC while performing an ISBT in a semi-immersive VR environment. These data reinforce the involvement of the PFC in attention-demanding balance tasks. Considering the adaptability of this virtual balance task to specific neurological disorders, the absence of motion sensing devices, and the motivating/safe semi-immersive VR environment, the ISBT adopted in this study could be considered valuable for diagnostic testing and for assessing the effectiveness of functional neurorehabilitation.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.031
Field of Research 110999 Neurosciences not elsewhere classified
11 Medical And Health Sciences
17 Psychology And Cognitive Sciences
Socio Economic Objective 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2013, Elsevier
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Psychology
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