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Virtual reality could treat depression: Scientists believe patients who 'dive' through coral reefs, 'ride' gondolas in Venice or 'travel' through forests may find pleasure in the everyday

Virtual reality (VR) may be the next big thing in computer games, but the state-of-the-art technology could also combat depression. Scientists believe putting patients in a simulated environment where they 'dive' in coral reefs, 'ride' trains through forests or 'celebrate' their favourite football team's glory could boost their mood. The technique is thought to help overcome anhedonia, when a patient loses the ability to enjoy pleasurable activities - a common symptom of depression. By coaching patients to observe the positive things happening around them, the scientists hope they will be more motivated to plan fun activities and take the time to 'soak up' everyday tasks. The scientists, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), are conducting two experiments to determine if VR boosts a depressed patient's mood. The research is being led by Professor Michelle Craske, director of the Anxiety and Depression Research Center at UCLA. Depression is the leading cause of disability in those aged 15-to-44 in the US and affects more than 16.1million American adults every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America. And in the UK, 19.7 per cent of people over 16 showed symptoms of depression or anxiety in 2014, Mental Health...

Augmented Reality: Bringing Learning to Life

Anyone who has used a chalkboard can attest that schools are not always seen as being on the cutting-edge of technology adoption. That perception may be turned on its head, though, as a recent survey found that 54% of students are already using augmented reality programs in their school curriculum. This phenomenon has had positive effects and demonstrates that technology is a crucial part of modern learning. AR is often seen as something that kids play with. After all, nearly every school-age kid has likely used a Snapchat filter or played Pokemon Go. However, nearly 73% of students believe that augmented reality would also be valuable to their studies. What has previously been seen as a cool tech gadget or a toy, is now becoming crucial to giving kids a well-rounded learning experience. Learning Transformed Many students struggle with the ability to imagine or visualize complex concepts, and augmented reality can help. For example, LightUp uses AR to help students understand complex STEM topics like biology and physics through virtual experiments. AR is being used to teach students about geometry, outer space, vocabulary, the human body, and much more. Some schools even teach students to create AR experiences, equipping them...

The Use of Virtual and Augmented Reality in Anatomy Teaching

Abstract Background – There is a demand for new and efficient tools to teach anatomical sciences. Rapid developments in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) mean educational use of the technology is becoming increasingly viable. However, uptake of this technology in anatomy teaching is still limited. This brief review aims to examine the effectiveness of VR/AR in anatomy teaching and includes evaluation of: head mounted devices (HMDs), stereoscopic projectors and screens, AR Magic Mirrors and AR Magic Books. Methods – PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar were searched for relevant articles from 2013 to 29th June 2018. Results – Students’ academic performance was equal to or better than control methods for all four types of technology. All studies found high levels of student satisfaction for VR/AR teaching methods. Discussion – Various confounding factors and the large heterogeneity between studies are likely to have a major impact on results. Further research into the depth and longevity of learning in the different teaching methods, as well as their cost-effectiveness, would be beneficial for prospective institutions. Keywords: Medical education; Electronic resources; Virtual reality; Augmented reality; Anatomy; Technology Enhanced; Head-mounted display; Teaching and Learning; Innovative Introduction In recent years, there has been growing interest...

Clinical virtual reality in mental health and rehabilitation: A brief review of the future!

Abstract The paper details some of the history of Clinical Virtual Reality (VR) as it has evolved over the last 25 years and provides a brief overview of the key scientific findings for making a judgment regarding its value in the areas of mental health and rehabilitation. This write-up is designed be a companion piece to my SPIE keynote on the topic of, “Is Clinical Virtual Reality Ready for Primetime?” As such, the paper is packed with citations to key scientific research in this area that should provide readers who are interested in this topic with a roadmap for further exploration of the literature. After presenting a brief history of the area, a discussion follows as to the theory, research, and pragmatic issues that support the view that this VR use case is theoretically informed, has a large and convincing scientific literature to support its clinical application, and that recent technology advances and concomitant cost reductions have made clinical implementation feasible and pragmatically supported. The paper concludes with the perspective that Clinical VR applications will soon become indispensable tools in the toolbox of psychological researchers and practitioners and will only grow in relevance and popularity in the future. Source

Social interaction in augmented reality

Abstract There have been decades of research on the usability and educational value of augmented reality. However, less is known about how augmented reality affects social interactions. The current paper presents three studies that test the social psychological effects of augmented reality. Study 1 examined participants’ task performance in the presence of embodied agents and replicated the typical pattern of social facilitation and inhibition. Participants performed a simple task better, but a hard task worse, in the presence of an agent compared to when participants complete the tasks alone. Study 2 examined nonverbal behavior. Participants met an agent sitting in one of two chairs and were asked to choose one of the chairs to sit on. Participants wearing the headset never sat directly on the agent when given the choice of two seats, and while approaching, most of the participants chose the rotation direction to avoid turning their heads away from the agent. A separate group of participants chose a seat after removing the augmented reality headset, and the majority still avoided the seat previously occupied by the agent. Study 3 examined the social costs of using an augmented reality headset with others who are not using a headset. Participants...

How Virtual Reality Can Help The Global Mental Health Crisis

The World Health Organization has reported that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently have such conditions. Considering that mental disorders are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide, VR is a welcome additional treatment. Studies have already shown that VR can ease certain phobias, treat PTSD, help people with psychotic disorders experience less paranoia and anxiety in public settings, and reduce social anxiety. To date, due to cost and technology limitations, VR has not been widely available as a treatment. However, with the rise of affordable standalone and mobile VR headsets, there is increased opportunity to use VR and decentralize mental health treatment, allowing more people to benefit. PTSD affects 7.7 million people in the U.S., and one in three people who experience a traumatic event will have PTSD. The symptoms range from insomnia to personality changes. Exposure therapy - repeatedly exposing patients to their traumatic event in a controlled environment until triggers of the event no longer lead to anxiety - has been found to be more effective than treatments like medication and psychotherapy. VR is believed...

How technology is transforming mental health treatment

Digital technologies should have much to contribute to tackling mental health conditions. Treatment can take place remotely and some patients may prefer to discuss problems through a screen rather than face-to-face. Plus, in the UK, and globally, there is a big gap between demand and capacity for treatment, something that technology could help fill. The greatest potential is in “blended treatments”, where self-service and automated technology supports healthcare professionals, says Dr Jen Martin, senior programme manager at the mental health MindTech MedTech Co-operative – a national centre focusing on the development, adoption and evaluation of new technologies for mental healthcare and dementia. “Where digital has a real role to play is in that additional help, while someone is having traditional face-to-face therapy,” she says. Much research and funding has gone into digital mental health therapies. “The big blocker is NHS adoption. It needs to be embedded into systems.” Embedding is already happening, however – Greater Manchester mental health foundation trust uses ClinTouch, for example: a mobile app for people recovering from psychosis, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Although patients will typically see a care co-ordinator monthly, symptoms of a relapse can appear within days; with the app, users are asked how...

After Augmented Reality, The Virtual World Still Affects You

New research digs into how augmented reality affects people’s behavior—in both the physical world and a digitally enhanced one. Researchers found that after people had an experience in augmented reality (AR)—which goggles that layer computer-generated content onto real-world environments simulated—their interactions in their physical world changed as well, even when they weren’t wearing the AR device. For example, people avoided sitting on a chair they had just seen a virtual person sit on. Researchers also found that the presence of a virtual person appeared to influence participants in a similar way a real person next to them might. “We’ve discovered that using augmented reality technology can change where you walk, how you turn your head, how well you do on tasks, and how you connect socially with other physical people in the room,” says study leader Jeremy Bailenson, a professor of communication at Stanford University. Their findings mirror much of the research Bailenson has done on virtual reality (VR). While VR attempts to simulate a real-life environment and take the user out of the present setting, AR technology layers digital information atop the user’s physical surroundings. In recent years, many technology companies have focused on developing augmented reality goggles and...

Virtual Reality Technology: A Potentially Useful Tool in Psychiatric Care

SAN FRANCISCO — The Mental Health Innovation Zone at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, held May 18-22, 2019, in San Francisco, California, hosted presentations on new technologies and developments in existing technologies that can be leveraged in psychiatry. Among these, a presentation by Limbix VR provided clinicians with an overview of the range of uses of virtual reality (VR) and how to integrate the technology in usual care. Research indicates that VR can be as effective as exposure therapy for the treatment of specific phobias. For example, VR technology is useful to treat the fear of flying, which is difficult to address using real-life exposure therapy, particularly since individuals are afraid of a specific part of the flying experience (eg, take off). With VR, a person can virtually witness this aspect of the experience that induces fear over and over again, but with a clinician present. In addition, VR was found to be more effective — both immediately after and 12 months later — than in vivo exposure therapy and patients waiting to receive therapy. Among several exposure programs created by Limbix, 1 provides the experience of a job interview and includes several gradations of intensity in the attitude...

Understanding AWE: Can a Virtual Journey, Inspired by the Overview Effect, Lead to an Increased Sense of Interconnectedness?

Immersive technology, such as virtual reality, provides us with novel opportunities to create and explore affective experiences with a transformative potential mediated through awe. The profound emotion of awe, that is experienced in response to witnessing vastness and creates the need for accommodation that can lead to restructuring of one's worldview and an increased feeling of connectedness. An iconic example of the powers of awe is observed in astronauts who develop instant social consciousness and strong pro-environmental values in response to the overwhelming beauty of Earth observed from space. Here on Earth, awe can also be experienced in response to observing vast natural phenomenon or even sometimes in response to some forms of art, presenting vast beauty to its audience. Can virtual reality provide a new powerful tool for reliably inducing such experiences? What are some unique potentials of this emerging medium? This paper describes the evaluation of an immersive installation “AWE”—Awe-inspiring Wellness Environment. The results indicate that the experience of being in “AWE” can elicit some components of awe emotion and induce minor cognitive shifts in participant's worldview similar to the Overview Effect, while this experience also has its own attributes that might be unique to this specific medium....

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