Stroke is the number one cause of disability in the United Nations with about 1 million new cases each year. Following stroke, patients with perceptual and cognitive impairments have the worst prognostic outcomes. There is evidence to suggest that perceptual and cognitive symptoms can be alleviated by multisensory integration, which has the effect of enhancing motor, perceptual and cognitive processes. This research project will investigate for the first time the functional benefits that stem from multisensory stimulation of attention in healthy adults and stroke patients with perceptual and cognitive impairments. The research project will involve the development of multisensory learning paradigms with stimulus and environmental parameters that optimally enhance perceptual learning and cognitive function in healthy adults. Multisensory learning paradigms will then be tailored for patients with stroke to determine the perceptual and cognitive symptoms that can be alleviated, and state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques (including MR spectroscopy) will be used to evaluate the underlying neural substrates of the effects. The project will show whether multisensoty stimulation provides an effective means of attentional rehabilitation after stroke and whether the effects generalize to everyday life, with long-term outcomes that improve functional independence in patients with stroke.
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