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McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

ESE Seminar: Thesis Defense Kristen Howorka

Friday, May 13, 2022 | 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Uncas A. Whitaker Hall, Room 100
6760 Forest Park Pkwy, St. Louis, MO 63105, USA

Sensory input enables subjects to perform daily tasks fluidly and often subconsciously. Therefore, through sensory processing the brain is able to take in information and turn it into appropriate motor and behavioral responses [20]. As the brain naturally ages, sensory function can decline, which in turn reduces a subject’s cognitive ability, including the ability to form short term memories. This decline can be steep and can lead to diseases, including Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Dementia, and/or Alzheimer’s [4, 21].

Research has shown that neural rhythms are associated with sensory functionality, and it has been hypothesized that these rhythms may be causal to function [5]. Understanding this begs the question of whether natural neural rhythms could be exogenously controlled and, subsequently, whether cognitive function would be affected.

Integrating neuroscience technology with engineering methodology allows this hypothesis to be tested. Specifically, in the current research, we examine exogenous control of the Posterior Dominant Rhythm (PDR), an intrinsic neural rhythm that appears over the rear portion of the scalp. The PDR is known to exhibit individual variation, which is sometimes referred to as a person’s peak resonant frequency. Our hypothesis was that properly tuned sensory input in form of acoustic stimulation, could modulate or control the PDR in individual subjects.

The objective is to study whether it is feasible to manipulate and alter a subject’s natural neural frequency or specifically, the PDR with exogenous stimuli. Therefore, this research aims to prove that with specific stimuli it is possible to alter the natural neural frequency of a subject.

Event Type



McKelvey School of Engineering


Science & Technology

Electrical & Systems Engineering
Speaker Information

Kristen Horworka 
MS Candidate
Washington University in St. Louis 

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