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Poster A34

Rhythmic stimulation with wearables improves sustained attention and increases arousal

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Nathan W Whitmore1 (, Samantha WT Chan1, Jingru Zhang1,2, Patricia Maes1; 1MIT, 2Tsinghua University

Rhythmic auditory and visual stimulation can influence brain function and improve cognition by inducing rhythms at specific frequencies in the brain (sensory entrainment). These findings suggest that wearable sensory entrainment devices could be a novel and useful method to improve cognition and treat brain disorders. Using a within subjects-design with 20 participants, we tested whether rhythmic stimulation with wearables could improve performance on the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) and alter brain and autonomic physiology. Participants performed the task in two-minute blocks with a different stimulation modality and frequency in each block. Modalities were visual (pulsed diffuse red light across the visual field from a pair of smart glasses), audio (pulsed tones from smart glasses), combined audio+visual, and vibration (from a vibration device on the wrist). For each modality, we stimulated at both 10 Hz and 40 Hz. A control condition with no stimulation was also included. We measured EEG as well as heart rate, electrodermal activity, and skin temperature from the finger. Stimulation improved SART performance compared to control, but there was no effect of frequency or reliable driving of oscillations at the target frequency, suggesting the effect did not depend on entrainment. Stimulation caused desynchronization of the EEG and altered physiological measurements consistent with increased arousal. Thus, benefits for attention may have resulted from increased arousal rather than entrainment. Our results suggest sensory stimulation with consumer wearables is a promising neuromodulatory technique with the potential to modify cognitive and autonomic nervous system function.

Topic Area: ATTENTION: Other


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April 13–16  |  2024