Virtual Reality: blurring lines between the real and digital world

“The computer in virtual reality enables us to recalibrate ourselves so that we can start seeing those pieces of information that are invisible to us but have become important for us to understand.” Douglas Adams

Virtual Reality provides a way to experience lives virtually. Through the sensorimotor system, people can use natural movements to view and interact with the virtual world.

VR and executive functions of the brain:

With Virtual Reality, ones can enter simulations of complicated situations and make inappropriate responses based on the best theoretical understanding of the specific disorder. The simulations can be graded until the appropriate learning appears. Accordingly, patients will much more easily face challenging circumstances in a Virtual Reality environment than in real life and can try new therapeutic strategies. Findings show that patients report fulfillment with VR-based therapy and might find it more satisfactory than traditional methods.

VR and Hallucination:

It has been claimed that VR products have the potential to induce hallucinogenic experiences and have already started appearing in the media.

Some VR apps (SoundSelf) claim they can reproduce the effects of hallucinogenic drugs.

DMT (dimethyltryptamine) is part of a class of hallucinogenic drugs known as psychedelics, including LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. Like psychedelic drugs, virtual Reality creates a three-dimensional experience in a virtual world.

It may be the case that Virtual Reality-induced hallucinogenic states will be ‘safer’ than ones caused by psychedelic drugs, as there is no psychoactive substance.

VR and addiction treatment:

Recovering from drug addiction can be one of the most challenging things a person will ever do. For those seeking addiction treatment to combat drug use, cravings and triggers can pose notable challenges to complete rehabilitation and recovery.

For those suffering from drug addiction, withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming. Even after recovering from withdrawal, the path comes with temptations and moments that can cause someone back to addiction.

A unique treatment program should be designed for every individual needs no matter what stage of the process they are in, including detoxification, fighting the craving, learning to say no, personalized therapy, and Relaxation.

VR and Training:

VR can simulate the situation for workplace occupational safety and health purposes, educational purposes, and training goals. It can be utilized to provide learners develop their skills without the consequences of failing. It has been used and studied in education, anatomy teaching, military, astronaut training, flight simulators, medical education, architectural design, and driver training.

Virtual training environments offer avenues of realism in military and healthcare training while minimizing expenses. It has also been minimizing the amounts of ammunition expended during training periods. Virtual Reality can also be used for healthcare training and education for medical practitioners.

But why is Virtual Reality so effective?

The primary mechanisms in Virtual Reality are similar to that of the brain: According to neuroscience, to control the body in the world effectively, the brain constructs an embodied simulation of the body in the world to represent and predict actions, concepts, and emotions. Virtual Reality works similarly: the VR experience attempts to predict the sensory consequences of every individual movement, providing the same scene in the real world. The Virtual Reality system, like the brain, maintains a model (simulation) of the body and the space around it.

Author: Azadeh Mozhdehfarahbakhsh

Image: Graphic by Violet Dashi

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    Published On: September 17, 20222.7 min read