May 2, 2014

Using virtual reality to augment perception, enhance sensorimotor adaptation, and change our minds

Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience
W Geoffrey Wright

Abstract

Technological advances that involve human sensorimotor processes can have both intended and unintended effects on the central nervous system (CNS). This mini review focuses on the use of virtual environments (VE) to augment brain functions by enhancing perception, eliciting automatic motor behavior, and inducing sensorimotor adaptation. VE technology is becoming increasingly prevalent in medical rehabilitation, training simulators, gaming, and entertainment. Although these VE applications have often been shown to optimize outcomes, whether it be to speed recovery, reduce training time, or enhance immersion and enjoyment, there are inherent drawbacks to environments that can potentially change sensorimotor calibration. Across numerous VE studies over the years, we have investigated the effects of combining visual and physical motion on perception, motor control, and adaptation. Recent results from our research involving exposure to dynamic passive motion within a visually-depicted VE reveal that short-term exposure to augmented sensorimotor discordance can result in systematic aftereffects that last beyond the exposure period. Whether these adaptations are advantageous or not, remains to be seen. Benefits as well as risks of usi...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Acclimatization
Adaptation
Brain Function
Passive Range of Motion Function
Gait Disorders, Neurologic

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