image3By Erin Douglas, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy

The McGill School of Physical and Occupational Therapy (SPOT) is proud to invite you to participate directly in an innovative educational research project open now at the Montreal Science Centre! Dr. Stefanie Blain-Moraes, Assistant Professor at SPOT, spearheaded the project, called “Feelings are More than Skin Deep”, in the form of an interactive exhibit within the Human Permanent Exhibition, which began last week.

The exhibit aims to:

–       Educate the public on how emotions and feelings are connected to physiological body changes, and;

–       Collect data to improve our ability to recognize emotions and feelings via physiological body signals, as a form of communication.

The ultimate goal of the project is to develop a system that will be able to translate the emotions of an individual who has difficulty communicating (e.g. individuals with autism, dementia, severe traumatic brain injury) for their family and caregivers.

Current research has been able to translate the emotions of single individuals, but Dr. Blain-Moraes is thinking bigger – she would like to use the data collected over the next five years to train a system that can classify emotions on a much broader level. If a system can accurately translate the emotional responses of any individual, this will open the doors to eliminating the guesswork of therapists and professionals working with their non-verbal clients; for example, is the client frustrated? Angry? Happy?

Visitors to the exhibit, “Feelings are More than Skin Deep/Mes émotions sont à fleur de peau” will sit in a booth and view a number of videos. While they watch each video, physiological data will be collected via a finger sensor.  The finger sensor will collect autonomic nervous system signals, such as skin temperature, heart rate and electronic changes on the skin’s surface, which will then be transformed using ‘biomusic’ technology into their own personal ‘emotional music.’ The exhibit, is now welcoming its first visitors!

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February 28, 2017