Tag Archives: Neuroscience

Virtual Reality Therapy Wows Stroke Victims (video)

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Image: Wall Street Daily

“Mindmaze integrates neuroscience with VR to help victims of stroke, amputation, or spinal injuries regain motor function faster than with traditional physical therapy [using] a motion-sensing camera to project a patient’s avatar onto VR goggles.

Then, with the help of as many as 32 electrodes on the patient’s head, he/she can command his or her virtual arm or leg to move to perform a task – for example, lifting a glass or kicking a ball.

Essentially, MindMaze “tricks” a patient’s brain into re-activating damaged neurons, or activating new neurons to take over for the damaged ones.”

By Louis Basenese at Wall Street Daily

Read more: http://www.wallstreetdaily.com/2015/05/12/mindmaze-virtual-reality-therapy/

Why These Neuroscientists Are Prescribing Video Games

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“Video games as therapy? While most virtual reality falls under the category of mindless entertainment, a group of researchers believe the gaming world may offer some benefit to those on the autism spectrum.

A team comprised of cognitive neuroscientists and gaming technology experts created a game with potential therapeutic applications, as part of an ongoing research effort at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas. The virtual-reality program aims to help individuals with autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s, traumatic brain injury and other conditions that limit social cognition skills.

“Practicing social interaction in a safe, non-threatening, gaming environment helps people reduce anxiety and gain the confidence and skills they need to attempt more social interactions in their daily lives,” Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman, the center’s founder and chief director, said in an email to The Huffington Post.”

By Carolyn Gregoire for The Huffington Post

Read more: http://huff.to/1thr6Cw

Virtual reality can help people conquer their phobias

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“Exposure therapy has proved a highly successful treatment for phobias, but it’s impractical for things such as fear of public speaking or flying. The answer may be virtual reality.

“Phobics know that when they see a little spider on the counter, they shouldn’t be panicking because technically it’s not dangerous,” says Stéphane Bouchard, a psychologist at the University of Quebec. “They’ll tell you, ‘I know this is crazy.’ But because they keep avoiding, their limbic system keeps associating spiders with danger or extreme disgust and they never undergo that corrective experience.”

For many types of phobia, however, traditional exposure therapy is not feasible. Crippling fears of public speaking or flying, for example, can be difficult to tackle practically. Over the past 10 years the solution has increasingly been the virtual world, utilising some of the technologies that brought us 3D cinema.”

By David Cox at The Guardian

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2014/oct/16/virtual-reality-phobias-public-speaking-flying

How Virtual Reality Could Help Diagnose Dementia – Prof Eduardo Macagno

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“When diagnosing and treating memory failure, particularly disorders like dementia, doctors often assess how patients navigate exterior and interior spaces such as streets or buildings, to see how they react.

From there, they can usually see if the patient is afflicted with a disorder. But it’s tricky work finding adult sufferers of memory loss who are getting “lost” in real-time. That’s where new research utilizing virtual reality comes in to help.

The VE-HuNT System (Virtual Environment Human Navigation Task) is the research project of UC San Diego Biological Sciences Professor Eduardo Macagno, a virtual reality designer working at the intersection of architecture, neuroscience and cognitive science. ”

By DJ PANGBURN at Motherboard

Read more: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/virtual-reality-to-be-used-to-treat-memory-failure-dementia

Virtual Reality Simulates Social Interactions in Autism Research

“The scientific team at the Center for BrainHealth is partnering with researchers at Yale’s Child Study Center to test the feasibility of providing the research-based training program to young adults across the country. A person with autism can use the technology to “practice” and hone their skills initiating a conversation with a person they would like to meet, interviewing for a job, or standing up for themselves by confronting a friend or colleague. Practicing social interaction in a safe, non-threatening, gaming environment helps people reduce anxiety and gain the confidence and skills they need to attempt more social interactions in their daily lives.”

By Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman from the Center for BrainHealth writing in the Huffington Post.

Read more at the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sandra-bond-chapman/autism-research_b_5077624.html

The Rubber Hand Illusion (BBC Horizon) – Prof. Lawrence Rosenblum (UC Riverside)

“BBC Horizon explores the strange and wonderful world of illusions – and reveals the tricks they play on our senses and why they fool us.

Professor Lawrence Rosenblum attempts to confuse some innocent passers by using a hammer, a paintbrush and a rubber hand.

He shows how just watching a rubber hand being stroked at the same time as a real hand can muddle something as basic as your sense of your own body.

It’s something that helps to reveal one of the biggest new ideas in neuroscience known as Neuroplasticity. This exciting new idea suggests that the brain can change in response to experience – and this has huge implications for millions around the world.”

Body illusions: Rubber hand illusion – Prof. Olaf Blanke (LNCO Lab)

“Neuroscientists at Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland demonstrate how you can trick your brain by stroking a fake rubber hand and your real hand at the same time.

About 10 years ago, psychologists in Pennsylvania discovered an amazing illusion. They found that they could convince people that a rubber hand was their own by putting it on a table in front of them while stroking it in the same way as their real hand.

The now-famous “rubber hand illusion” was not only a mind-blowing party trick, it was also hugely important in understanding how sight, touch and “proprioception” – the sense of body position – combine to create a convincing feeling of body ownership, one of the foundations of self-consciousness.”

More info:

Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience – http://lnco.epfl.ch/

Virtual out-of-body experience – Prof. Olaf Blanke (LNCO Lab)

“A group of neuroscientists at Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have induced out-of-body experiences for the first time, using virtual reality and an experimental set-up. By deliberately scrambling a person’s visual and tactile senses, it is now possible to give them an “out-of-body” experience.

Two procedures – which are the first to imitate an out-of-body experience artificially – use cameras to fool people into thinking they are standing or sitting somewhere else in a room. They provide the strongest proof yet that people only imagine floating out of their bodies during surgery or near-death experiences.”

By Andy Coghlan for New Scientist

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More info:

New Scientist – http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12531-outofbody-experiences-are-all-in-the-mind.html

Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience – http://lnco.epfl.ch

Out of Body Experiences – ABC Television (EPFL & USZ Switzerland)

Out of Body Experiences

“A surprisingly large number of people report having had an Out of Body Experience. A common story is they find their awareness floating up near the ceiling. Dr Graham Philips met up with scientists in Switzerland who’ve been examining the phenomenon.

The question is asked “could my consciousness leap from me to a virtual body just as it does with the rubber hand illusion?

The Rubber Hand Illusion occurs because my brain knows I’m feeling the touch in one place, my real arm, but seeing it in another. It goes with the dominant sense: sight.”

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http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/2816872.htm#.UizLZi24gDM.facebook

More info:

Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience – http://lnco.epfl.ch/

Out-of-body experience recreated – Prof. Olaf Blanke (LNCO Lab) & Prof. Henrik Ehrsson (Ehrsson Lab)

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“Experts have found a way to trigger an out-of-body experience in volunteers.

The experiments, described in the Science journal, offer a scientific explanation for a phenomenon experienced by one in 10 people.

Two teams used virtual reality goggles to con the brain into thinking the body was located elsewhere.”

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BBC News report – “Out-of-body experience recreated” –

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6960612.stm

More info:

Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience – http://lnco.epfl.ch/