Mel Slater's Presence Blog
Thoughts about research and radical new applications of virtual reality - a place to write freely without the constraints of academic publishing,and have some fun.
- Name: Mel Slater
I still find immersive virtual reality as thrilling now as when I first tried it 20 years ago.
20 November, 2015
10 September, 2015
In the Presence of Freud
Counselling Yourself in Immersive Virtual RealitySofia Adelaide Osimo, Rodrigo Pizarro, Bernhard Spanlang, Mel Slater (2015)
Conversations between self and self as Sigmund Freud—A virtual body ownership paradigm for self counselling, Scientific Reports, 5, 13899; doi: 10.1038/srep13899
We have used immersive virtual reality to provide a way that you can have a conversation with yourself, but the other ‘you’ that you talk with can be represented as another person (or even another copy of yourself). The idea was to investigate whether this method would reduce the negative feelings associated with personal problems.
In both synchronous conditions participants had a strong illusion of body ownership - whether the body they saw was their own, or that of Freud.
07 November, 2014
What happens in your brain when your virtual body is threatened?
Mar González-Franco, Tabitha C Peck, Antoni Rodríguez-Fornells, Mel Slater (2014) A Threat to a Virtual Hand Elicits Motor Cortex Activation Experimental Brain Research 232: 3. 875-887.
12 July, 2014
Visual-Tactile and Visual-Motor Influences on Virtual Body Ownership
Now especially in control conditions (e.g., asynchronous) we are asking them to report on something that they do not know about - yet of course they will always give some answer to a questionnaire. This is especially problematic in within-group studies where we ask people to report the strength of the illusion in both an experimental (e.g. synchronous) condition and in a control (e.g., asynchronous condition). But these are not balanced in the sense that the order of the conditions does matter. Experiencing first an asynchronous condition and then a synchronous one is really very different from the other way around - since when the synchronous condition is experienced first participants know what you are talking about with respect to ‘body ownership’ and therefore can more appropriately evaluate the asynchronous condition. No amount of counter balancing can overcome this, and anyway it violates a fundamental assumption behind the statistical analysis (by ANOVA) of within-group designs - that all orders of stimuli delivery are equivalent.
15 February, 2014
The Presence of Your Distant Virtual Body
15 July, 2013
Presence Through the Eyes of a Child
Alternatively you can be embodied in a virtual body of the same size as the child one, except that this is a shrunken down adult body. Otherwise everything is the same. In both conditions people tended to have a strong illusion that the virtual body was their body.
if you were the size of a Barbie doll, how would you see the world? You see it bigger. What we found though goes beyond that. In the two conditions (child or shrunk down adult) both overestimated sizes of objects, as expected. However, the child condition led to much greater size overestimation. It must therefore be not just the size but the form of the body that is having this effect.
We also gave people an implicit association test. This requires people to quickly categorise themselves according to child or adult attributes. Their adult attributes (like their age, what they do etc) were obtained a while before the experiment from a questionnaire. Those in the child condition nevertheless were found to identify themselves more with child like attributes than those in the adult condition.
A critical aspect of the findings was that the differences between the child and adult embodiment was due to the degree to which participants had the sensation that the virtual body was their body (their degree of 'body ownership' over the virtual body). We had another condition where everything in the setup was the same, except that the virtual body moved independently of the person's real body movements. In this condition the illusion of body ownership was very much reduced compared to the condition when the virtual body moved synchronously with the real body movements. In this asynchronous condition the difference between the child and adult conditions vanished. Both still overestimated sizes, but there was no difference between them, and the overestimation was about the same as that in the synchronous adult condition.
The body has a kind of semantics, meaning is attributed to a body type. In this case it was a child's body, something of which we've all experienced. Perhaps embodying people in such a child-like body automatically leads the brain to bring to the fore types of mental processing that go along with being a child. We have only shown this with respect to size perception, and implicit associations, but maybe there is more to this. Also we do not know how long the effects last - much work remains to be done.
Domna Banakou, Raphaela Groten, and Mel Slater (2013) Illusory ownership of a virtual child body causes overestimation of object sizes and implicit attitude changes, PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1306779110
31 May, 2013
Racial Bias and Virtual Embodiment
Tabitha C. Peck, Sofia Seinfeld, Salvatore M. Aglioti & Mel Slater (2013) Putting yourself in the skin of a black avatar reduces implicit racial bias, Consciousness and Cognition, 22(3), 779-787.
This work is funded under the FP7 Project VERE and the ERC Project TRAVERSE.