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Research Themes

Avatar mediated social interaction – We immerse people in virtual reality in which they interact with each other through life sized avatars. This allows social human (Verbal and non-verbal communication and the role of objects and the environment) to be studied in new ways. By changing which non-verbal cues are transmitted or how faithfully they are delivered, allows us to study their relationships. Ultimately we are interested in what builds trust, rapport and feelings of togetherness.

Virtual Reality and Mental Health – VR can be used to understand, diagnose, treat and offer relief from mental health problems. We are currently researching three avenues within this:  neuroscience of exposure therapy; prosthetic acceptance; and dementia.

Virtual Reality and Cognition – Attention, emotion and executive cognitive function are closely linked in the brain. Virtual reality displays allow attention to drawn via many senses and for some, from many directions or parts of the body. Doing so with emotive stimuli is well known to create reactions as if real. Measures include psychophysiological, neural, behavioural and self report. For example, we can integrating tracking of eyes and posture, neural imaging and video to measure subject’s reaction to stimuli, while asking them about their experience through questionnaire and interview.