Interactive Acoustic Experience and Technology Transfer

Data acquisition continues in several phases of our research that examines the effects of interactive acoustic experience on the developing brain. This behavioral intervention, administered via an operantly conditioned Go/No Go oddball task, is designed to gently guide the developing brain to set up more efficient prelinguistic acoustic maps and optimize pathways for mounting early language. In our randomized control study, we have been investigating the underlying neural correlates of acoustic mapping in infants with dense array EEG/ERP before and after a 6-week interactive, progressive acoustic experience. We have designed a series of protocols that utilize contemporary techniques to adaptively drive brain plasticity in order to formulate non-invasive early interventions for developmentally delayed infants and children or infants at high risk for developmental language learning disorders. Use of an on-line eye-gaze tracking system as an interface allows children to interact with an electronic computerized toy through the position and duration of their eye-gaze. The eye-tracker has been programmed to interact with our software in such a way that contingency learning can be set up via eye gaze.

 

The paradigms we have developed continuously monitor children’s performance and adapt stimulus presentation to the appropriate level, providing on-line environmental control and positive reinforcement. Such child-friendly adaptive procedures can be used with either visual or auditory stimuli, or both combined. These techniques can be used from infancy, and are appropriate for infant through pre-school ages as well as children with limited motor control.

 

These adaptive learning techniques, particularly in translation, allow the possibility of optimizing acoustic mapping well before babies speak their first word and thus could have far-reaching implications for infants at high risk of developing language based learning disorders. Thus we are in the process of technology transfer. We have received nine patents to date on our rapid auditory processing technology (RAPT™), three in the US and in China, Europe (Germany, France, UK), Japan and Hong Kong. A patented interactive toy-like device – now in the proof-of-concept prototype stage – has been designed to facilitate active technology transfer to home, daycare and clinic settings and hopefully provide “real-world” intervention solutions.

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