Enhancing Brain Health and Cognitive Development Through Sensorimotor Play in Virtual Reality: Uncovering the Neural Correlates


Keywords: Virtual Reality, Sensorimotor Play, Neurocognitive Evidences, Brain Development, Serious Games


Brain health is a critical part of well-being because it is a foundation for the ability to communicate, make decisions and solve real-life problems. Virtual reality games involve motor and sensory activities that can help to improve brain connectivity by providing an immersive and interactive experience that engages multiple brain regions simultaneously. Reinforcing sensorimotor activities influences cognitive skills and improves brain health. Sensorimotor play in virtual reality is a relatively new concept that is gaining attention as a tool for promoting brain health and cognitive abilities. It is believed that this type of play can have positive impact on brain health and cognitive function, such as improving memory, enhancing focus, and reducing stress and anxiety. The aims of the current paper are (1) – to present evidence, based on neuro correlates, of the importance of the sensorimotor play to the brain health and (2) – to propose a conceptual model for a personalized VR game design using neurocognitive feedback obtained through Brain-Computer Interface that assesses brain areas during sensorimotor stimulation.


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Author Biographies

Anna K. Lekova, Institute of Robotics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Anna K. Lekova has received M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from the Technical University, Sofia, Bulgaria in 1989 and 1995, respectively, all in Computer Science. She was a visiting Assistant Professor, Faculty of Computing, Technical University in 1990-1993, and Erasmus teacher in “Wireless mobile networks, intelligent routing protocols and security” - University of Portsmouth, UK, 2008-2013. She is a full Professor at Institute of Robotics (IR), Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS), Sofia, Bulgaria. (http://ir.bas.bg). Dr. Anna Lekova is currently Head of “Interactive Robotics and Control Systems” Department in IR-BAS. A. Lekova coordinated or contributed in more than 11 EU and national projects. She has (co)authored more than 150 scientific research articles in indexed journals, refereed conferences and books. Her research interests include Socially Assistive Robots, Conversational AI, Interactive Robotics, Assistive Robots in Special Education, EEG-based Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) and Fuzzy Logic. Currently, there are more than 300 citations to her published work.

Paulina Tsvetkova, Institute of Robotics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Paulina T. Tsvetkova was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Developmental and Pedagogical Psychology from “Paisii Hilendarski” University, Plovdiv, Bulgaria in 2022. She has certificates in Python programming and has been doing a course in Artificial Intelligence since March. Dr. Paulina Tsvetkova has a qualification in Data Science. She has worked at the Institute of Robotics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences since 2019. Dr. Paulina Tsvetkova has contributed in different EU and national projects. She participates in Action under the COST Programme for European Cooperation in Science and Technology: Action No. CA19104 “Advancing Social inclusion through Technology and EmPowerment (a-STEP)”, 2020-2024 and currently is a sub-group leader of working group 2. She has completed a training in a Delphi study under the grant of the COST Action. She has more than ten publications in reference databases and impact factor journals, including a MDPI journal.

Anna Andreeva, Institute of Robotics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Anna Andreeva is Chief Assistant Professor at the Department of Logopaedics in South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria since 2007 and Researcher at the Institute of Robotics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences since 2021. She was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Speech and Language Pathology from South-West University “Neofit Rilski” in 2018. She has completed a course about patient autonomy: legal, medical and ethical considerations. Dr. Andreeva has received additional certified training in stuttering therapy, voice rehabilitation, specific speech therapy approaches for craniofacial anomalies, speech, language and hearing rehabilitation of people with hearing disorders who are cochlear implants users. She has certificates for an augmentative and alternative communication system “Talking Mats” and trainings about using assistive technology to promote participation for people with disabilities. Dr. Andreeva had completed short-term specialization in Use of Computerized Speech Lab and Acoustical Voice Analysis with PRAAT” at Gent University, Gent, Belgium in 2010. She has specialized in Using NAO humanoid robot with children with disabilities at Cyprus Interaction Lab, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus in the frame of two short-term scientific missions in the frame of COST Action TD 1309 Play for Children with Disabilities in 2015 and 2018. She participated in many national and international scientific projects. She is a member of national and international scientific organizations – Union of Scientists in Bulgaria, Bulgarian Public Health Association, European Public Health Association, World Federation of Public Health Associations and Bulgarian Stroke Society. She has more than thirty publications in reference databases and impact factor journals, including a MDPI journal.