Event Lab / MoTIVE Symposium 2nd February, 2021

ZIPP Core Facility, VR Lab
Central Institute of Mental Health
J 5 · 68159 Mannheim, Germany

09:30 Mel Slater, Event Lab, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, Institute of Neurosciences, Universitat de Barcelona.

The transformative power of virtual reality

In this talk I will introduce the main concepts that are associated with virtual reality – presence, body ownership, agency. I will give a number of examples of how the associated illusory perception and cognition engendered in VR can give rise to personal transformational experiences. I will draw examples from racial bias, illusory agency, and clinical psychology.

10:15 Ramon Oliva, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, Universitat de Barcelona.

Building interactive virtual reality applications

In this talk we will explain the main steps of creating an Interactive Virtual Reality Application by introducing the internal library that we use to develop our experiments and applications in the EventLab. This library is the result of our technical research in Virtual Reality and offers a series of tools to quickly start developing your own VR application under Unity 3D Game Engine. We will also discuss a series of best practices that we have to take into consideration when developing a VR application, and some tricks and tips to get the full potential of our VR devices. 

11:00 Alejandro Beacco, Event Lab, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, Universitat de Barcelona.

Animating virtual humans and crowds

At the EventLab we are continuously coming up with ideas for new experiments and new studies to perform in VR. These new immersive environments usually involve the presence of one or more virtual humans that might interact with the participant. Depending on the experiment, we might even need to include crowds with hundreds of virtual agents that surround the participant. Thus the necessity to design and develop internal tools that allow us to quickly add and animate individual virtual avatars and crowds in our multiple projects. In this talk we will review some of these multiple tools as we go through several examples of past projects.

11:45 Jaime Gallego, Event Lab, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, Universitat de Barcelona. 

Creating and animating virtual humans from video

In recent years, computer vision techniques have experienced a boost due to the confluence of three factors: Better hardware to process images (GPUs), improvement of the processing techniques using Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) and the increase of the data available to train the Deep Learning (DL) methods. This enhancement is being translated to new proposals that are of main interest to obtain the semantic information in both images and video recordings. Within this context, at the EventLab, we are applying and developing new Computer Vision methods to analyze video recordings from concerts and to obtain the 3D reconstruction of the scenes suitable for its reproduction in Virtual Reality. In this talk, we will review some of the techniques designed for this purpose. 

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Sofia Seinfeld, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)

Virtual Reality For Rehabilitation Of Gender Violence Offenders 

In this talk we will discuss a series of studies that evaluate the behavioral and neural impact of embodying intimate partner violence perpetrators to experience an abuse situation from the first-person perspective (1PP) of a virtual victim. We will explain investigations where we have found that embodiment of male offenders in the body of a female victim, leads to changes in emotion recognition and physiological responding. Moreover, we will also explain recent evidence from an fMRI study where we have found that the 1PP of a virtual violent situation seems to influence emotion recognition through modifications in Default Mode Network (DMN) brain activity. Altogether, these results provide further evidence that embodiment in VR might influence socio-cognitive processing and also highlights the potential use of VR to improve current rehabilitation programs for domestic violence.

14:15 Maria V. Sanchez-Vives, IDIBABS, Barcelona

Institute of Biomedical Investigations August Pi i Sunyer, Barcelona, Spain

Embodiment in Virtual Environments for Pain Management

A significant body of experimental evidence has demonstrated that it is possible to induce the illusion of ownership of a fake limb or even an entire fake body using multisensory correlations. Recently, immersive virtual reality has allowed users to experience the same sensations of ownership over a virtual body inside an immersive virtual environment, which in turn allows virtual reality users to have the feeling of being “embodied” in a virtual body. Using such virtual embodiment to manipulate body perception is starting to be extensively investigated and may have clinical implications for conditions that involve altered body image such as chronic pain. I will review experimental and clinical studies that have explored the manipulation of an embodied virtual body in immersive virtual reality for both experimental and clinical pain relief. We discuss the current state of the art, as well as the challenges faced by, and ideas for, future research. Finally, I will discuss the potentialities of using an embodied virtual body in immersive virtual reality in the field of neurorehabilitation, specifically in the field of pain.

Matamala-Gomez, M., Nierula, B., Donegan, T., Slater, M., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2020). Manipulating the Perceived Shape and Color of a Virtual Limb Can Modulate Pain Responses. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9(2), 291.

Matamala-Gomez, M., Donegan, T., Bottiroli, S., Sandrini, G., Sanchez-Vives, M. V., & Tassorelli, C. (2019). Immersive virtual reality and virtual embodiment for pain relief. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 13, 279.

Donegan, T., Ryan, B. E., Swidrak, J., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2020). Immersive virtual reality for clinical pain: considerations for effective therapy. Frontiers in Virtual Reality, 1, 9.

Martini, M., Pérez Marcos, D., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2013). What color is my arm? Changes in skin color of an embodied virtual arm modulates pain threshold. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7, 438.

15:00 Domna Banakou, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, Universitat de Barcelona.

Implicit racial bias in affective social contexts in VR

In previous studies we have shown that IVR can be used to reduce implicit racial bias by embodying White participants in a Black virtual body. Nonetheless, these studies take place in non-social and non-affective contexts. We report an experiment where we show that when White participants are embodied in a Black virtual body in a social situation that generates negative affect, implicit racial bias can in fact, increase. Moreover, we find evidence of cognitive dissonance, where White people embodied in a Black body in a negative social situation are likely to have less body ownership than when in a Black virtual body.

15:45 Closing Discussion

16:00 Close

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