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Visual attention, EEG alpha power and T7-Fz coherence are implicated in prosthetic hand control and can be optimised through gaze training

Parr, Johnny, Vine, Sammy, Wilson, Mark, Harrison, Neil and Wood, Greg (2018) Visual attention, EEG alpha power and T7-Fz coherence are implicated in prosthetic hand control and can be optimised through gaze training. [Dataset]


Background: A prosthetic hand imposes a high cognitive burden on the user that often results in fatigue, frustration and prosthesis rejection. However, efforts to directly measure this burden are sparse and little is known about the mechanisms that underpin it. There is also a lack of evidence-based training interventions designed to improve prosthesis hand control and reduce the mental effort required to use them. In two experiments, we provide the first evaluation of this cognitive burden using measurements of EEG and eye-tracking (Experiment 1), and then explore how a novel visuomotor intervention (gaze training; GT) might alleviate this cognitive burden (Experiment 2). Methods: In Experiment 1, able-bodied participants (n = 20) lifted and moved a jar, first using their anatomical hand and then using a myoelectric prosthetic hand simulator. In experiment 2, a GT group (n=12) and a movement training (MT) group (n = 12) trained with the prosthetic hand simulator over three separate one hour sessions in a picking up coins task, before returning for retention, delayed retention and transfer tests. The GT group received instruction regarding how to use their eyes effectively, while the MT group received movement-related instruction typical in rehabilitation. Results: Experiment 1 revealed that when using the prosthetic hand, participants performed worse, exhibited spatial and temporal disruptions to visual attention, and exhibited a global decrease in EEG alpha power (8-12Hz), suggesting increased cognitive effort. Experiment 2 showed that GT was the more effective method for expediting prosthesis learning, optimising visual attention, and lowering conscious control – as indexed by reduced T7-Fz coherence. Whilst the MT group improved performance, they did not reduce hand-focused visual attention and showed increased conscious movement control. The superior benefits of GT also transferred to a more complex tea-making task. Conclusions: These experiments represent the most comprehensive evaluation of the visual and cortical mechanisms relating to the cognitive burden experienced during prosthetic hand control. They also evidence the efficacy of a GT intervention that alleviated this burden and promoted better learning and transfer, compared to typical rehabilitation instructions. These findings are of interest to prosthesis users, therapists and the designers of upper-limb prostheses.

Date added to e-space: 05 Nov 2018 16:19
Publisher: Manchester Metropolitan University
Divisions: Faculties > Science and Engineering
URI: https://e-space.mmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/621799
DOI: https://doi.org/10.23634/MMUDR.00621799


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