Naheem Bashir, Research Challenge update – June 2018

Research Challenge 2017 winner Naheem Bashir, Speech Research Group, University College London

Twitter: @NaheemBashir 

Firstly, I would like to say thank you to Rogue Resolutions for selecting me as a winner of the 2017 Brainbox Initiative Research Challenge. It is a privilege to be selected and to be awarded equipment and further opportunities to present my work.

Since winning the award, we have been finalising the details of our study in order to begin data collection. With the equipment awarded, we will be able to conduct our first multi-modal imaging study with people who stutter. Understanding the mechanisms behind fluent and dysfluent speech production will enable greater insight into stuttering and fluent speech production and provide consequent targets for brain stimulation studies which seek to reduce levels of stuttering.

The equipment arrived at our lab at UCL at the end of March and was set up promptly by the team from Rogue Resolutions. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of equipment I had been awarded. This included the Brainsight fNIRS system; a Brainsight camera for digitising optodes; an EEG system (complete with laptop and an extra monitor); and an iMac. We then received full training with the system soon after from Dan Phillips, who was incredibly supportive, helpful and knowledgeable.

Having completed the training and used the equipment for a little while, I can say I am very impressed and first impressions are wholly positive. In particular, I’ve found the equipment and associated software addresses specific concerns I have had with previous fNIRS equipment from other manufacturers. For example, the profile of the Brainsight fNIRS optodes are incredibly small and as a result, much more comfortable for participants compared to other fNIRS systems. Previous fNIRS systems we have used could only be tolerated for 20-30 minutes by participants. In trials we’ve conducted, the Brainsight optodes have remained on the participants head for longer than one hour, with no complaints about discomfort. This, of course, is advantageous as it allows us to conduct longer experiments without having to remove and replace optodes in-between conditions.

The equipment and support provided by Rogue Resolutions have exceeded all of my expectations. I would actively encourage any young scientist to apply for this year’s Brainbox Initiative Research Challenge, as the opportunities provided are invaluable for any young scientist. Our data collection will begin imminently, and I look forward to working with Rogue Resolutions over the coming months as we conduct and analyse our study.