Posts Tagged psychology

[WEB SITE] Virtual Reality Reduces Pain and Increases Performance During Exercise – Neuroscience News

Summary: Researchers report virtual reality can help to lower pain levels and increase performance when undertaking physical activity. Participants using VR reported a pain intensity 10% lower than those not using the technology when performing isometric bicep curls.

Source: University of Kent.

The research, led by PhD candidate Maria Matsangidou from EDA, set out to determine how using VR while exercising could affect performance by measuring a raft of criteria: heart rate, including pain intensity, perceived exhaustion, time to exhaustion and private body consciousness.

To do this they monitored 80 individuals performing an isometric bicep curl set at 20% of the maximum weight they could lift, which they were then asked to hold for as long as possible. Half of the group acted as a control group who did the lift and hold inside a room that had a chair, a table and yoga mat on the floor.

The VR group were placed in the same room with the same items. They then put on a VR headset and saw the same environment, including a visual representation of an arm and the weight (see image below). They then carried out the same lift and hold as the non-VR group.

The results showed a clear reduction in perception of pain and effort when using VR technology. The data showed that after a minute the VR group had reported a pain intensity that was 10% lower than the non-VR group.

Furthermore the time to exhaustion for the VR group was around two minutes longer than those doing conventional exercise. The VR group also showed a lower heart rate of three beats per minute than the non-VR group.

Results from the study also showed no significant effect of private body consciousness on the positive impact of VR. Private body consciousness is the subjective awareness each of us has to bodily sensations.

the vr system

Previous research has shown that individuals who have a high private body consciousness tend to better understand their body and as a result perceive higher pain when exercising. However, the study’s findings revealed that VR was effective in reducing perceived pain and that private body consciousness did not lessen this effect.

As such, the improvements shown by the VR group suggest that it could be a possible way to encourage less active people to exercise by reducing the perceived pain that exercise can cause and improving performance, regardless of private body consciousness.

Lead researcher Maria Matsangidou said: ‘It is clear from the data gathered that the use of VR technology can improve performance during exercise on a number of criteria. This could have major implications for exercise regimes for everyone, from occasional gym users to professional athletes.’

ABOUT THIS NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH ARTICLE

 

Dr Jim Ang from EDA and Dr Alex Mauger from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Kent were also involved in the research.

Source: Dan Worth – University of Kent
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Maria Matsangidou.
Original Research: Abstract for “Is your virtual self as sensational as your real? Virtual Reality: The effect of body consciousness on the experience of exercise sensations” by Maria Matsangidou, Chee Siang Ang, Alexis R. Mauger, Jittrapol Intarasirisawat, Boris Otkhmezuri, and Marios N. Avraamides in Psychology of Sports and Exercise. Published July 18 2018.
doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.07.004

CITE THIS NEUROSCIENCENEWS.COM ARTICLE
University of Kent”Virtual Reality Reduces Pain and Increases Performance During Exercise.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 1 October 2018.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/virtual-reality-pain-exercise-9941/&gt;.

Abstract

Is your virtual self as sensational as your real? Virtual Reality: The effect of body consciousness on the experience of exercise sensations

Objectives
Past research has shown that Virtual Reality (VR) is an effective method for reducing the perception of pain and effort associated with exercise. As pain and effort are subjective feelings, they are influenced by a variety of psychological factors, including one’s awareness of internal body sensations, known as Private Body Consciousness (PBC). The goal of the present study was to investigate whether the effectiveness of VR in reducing the feeling of exercise pain and effort is moderated by PBC.

Design and methods
Eighty participants were recruited to this study and were randomly assigned to a VR or a non-VR control group. All participants were required to maintain a 20% 1RM isometric bicep curl, whilst reporting ratings of pain intensity and perception of effort. Participants in the VR group completed the isometric bicep curl task whilst wearing a VR device which simulated an exercising environment. Participants in the non-VR group completed a conventional isometric bicep curl exercise without VR. Participants’ heart rate was continuously monitored along with time to exhaustion. A questionnaire was used to assess PBC.

Results
Participants in the VR group reported significantly lower pain and effort and exhibited longer time to exhaustion compared to the non-VR group. Notably, PBC had no effect on these measures and did not interact with the VR manipulation.

Conclusions
Results verified that VR during exercise could reduce negative sensations associated with exercise regardless of the levels of PBC.

 

via Virtual Reality Reduces Pain and Increases Performance During Exercise – Neuroscience News

 

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[Abstract] Towards an Immersive Virtual Reality Game for Smarter Post-Stroke Rehabilitation

Abstract:

Traditional forms of physical therapy and rehabilitation are often based on therapist observation and judgment, coincidentally this process oftentimes can be inaccurate, expensive, and non-timely. Modern immersive Virtual Reality systems provide a unique opportunity to make the therapy process smarter. In this paper, we present an immersive virtual reality stroke rehabilitation game based on a widely accepted therapy method, Constraint-Induced Therapy, that was evaluated by nine post-stroke participants. We implement our game as a dynamically adapting system that can account for the user’s motor abilities while recording real-time motion capture and behavioral data. The game also can be used for tele-rehabilitation, effectively allowing therapists to connect with the participant remotely while also having access to +90Hz real-time biofeedback data. Our quantitative and qualitative results suggest that our system is useful in increasing affordability, accuracy, and accessibility of post-stroke motor treatment.

via Towards an Immersive Virtual Reality Game for Smarter Post-Stroke Rehabilitation – IEEE Conference Publication

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] A Cloud-Based Virtual Reality App for a Novel Telemindfulness Service: Rationale, Design and Feasibility Evaluation – Full Text

ABSTRACT

Background: Worldwide, there has been a marked increase in stress and anxiety, also among patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Access to psychology services is limited, with some estimates suggesting that over 50% of sufferers are not accessing the existing services available to them for reasons such as inconvenience, embarrassment, or stigmatization concerns around mental health. Health service providers have increasingly been turning to drug-free therapies, such as mindfulness programs, as complementary treatments.

Objective: Virtual reality (VR) as a new delivery method for meditation-based stress and anxiety reduction therapy offers configurable environments and privacy protection. Our objective was to design a serious learning-meditation environment and to test the feasibility of the developed telemindfulness approach based on cloud technologies.

Methods: We developed a cloud-based system, which consisted of a Web interface for the mindfulness instructor and remote clients, who had 3D VR headsets. The mindfulness instructor could communicate over the Web interface with the participants using the headset. Additionally, the Web app enabled group sessions in virtual rooms, 360-degree videos, and real interactions or standalone meditation. The mindfulness program was designed as an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course specifically for the developed virtual environments. The program was tested with four employees and four patients with TBI. The effects were measured with psychometric tests, the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) and the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Patients also carried out the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). An additional objective evaluation has also been carried out by tracking head motion. Additionally, the power spectrum analyses of similar tasks between sessions were tested.

Results: The patients achieved a higher level of life satisfaction during the study (SWLS: mean 23.0, SD 1.8 vs mean 18.3, SD 3.9) and a slight increase of the MAAS score (mean 3.4, SD 0.6 vs mean 3.3, SD 0.4). Particular insight into the MAAS items revealed that one patient had a lower MAAS score (mean 2.3). Employees showed high MAAS scores (mean 4.3, SD 0.7) and although their SWLS dropped to mean 26, their SWLS was still high (mean 27.3, SD 2.8). The power spectrum showed that the employees had a considerable reduction in high-frequency movements less than 0.34 Hz, particularly with the 360-degree video. As expected, the patients demonstrated a gradual decrease of high-frequency movements while sitting during the mindfulness practices in the virtual environment.

Conclusions: With such a small sample size, it is too early to make any specific conclusions, but the presented results may accelerate the use of innovative technologies and challenge new ideas in research and development in the field of mindfulness/telemindfulness.

Introduction

Attention impairment has often been considered a hallmark of mental illness. Attention training is an important part of meditation, and has proven to augment the ability to sustain attention [1]. Mindfulness as a meditation tool has an important role in psychology, self-awareness, and well-being. The authors Brown and Ryan [2] reported that mindfulness over time was related to a reduction in variable mood and stress in patients with cancer. Mindfulness is an internationally recognized therapy that teaches self-awareness, maintaining own thoughts, sensations, feelings, emotions, and appreciation of your living environment [3]. The mindfulness meditation technique may help patients manage potentially negative outcomes and improve well-being by controlling unselfconsciousness (thoughts on failure). Avoiding problems associated with the future, focusing on the present, being “now,” and controlling the tracking of time may, in addition to well-being, lead to mindfulness. A person who can achieve such an active and open attention state can control thoughts from a distance, free to judge whether they are good or not [4]. In this context, mindfulness can also be considered an important tool for managing anxiety and stress in patients [2]. Kabat-Zinn [3] designed an 8-week meditation course, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which provides 2 hours of meditation in a group with additional homework. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has demonstrated that awareness of the mind, unconscious thoughts, feelings, and other emotions positively affect major physiological processes and thus decreases the level of stress-related disorders [46].

Anxiety and stress disorders can be related to pressure at work, incurable diseases, or neuromuscular disorders, such as Parkinson disease, light traumatic brain injury (TBI), multiple sclerosis, or other diseases of the muscular or central nervous system. Deficits in executive functions, memory, and learning are often documented after TBI. In addition, at least half of those suffering from TBI experience chronic pain and/or sleep disorders, depression, and substance abuse [7].

A review of the literature shows that neural systems are modifiable networks and changes in the neural structure can occur in adults as a result of training [8]. The study reported on anatomical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images from 16 healthy meditation-naïve participants who underwent the 8-week mindfulness program [8]. The results obtained before and after the program suggested that participation in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course was associated with changes in gray matter concentration in the regions of the brain involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.

Early rehabilitation in the acute and subacute phase may be a critical period and a key to effective rehabilitation, especially in TBI [9]. A significant drawback is that patients often stay in hospital for a limited time and are soon discharged for recovery at home. Afterward they can visit an outpatients’ clinic. Patients residing close may find the outpatient service convenient, but it could be very inconvenient for those who are in need of ongoing care, are dependent on public transport, or in the worst case do not have access to transport at all. Consequently, external factors such as travel fatigue may hinder the effectiveness of the therapy and, in some, may even increase anxiety and stress. In addition, modern diseases caused by stress and anxiety in the workplace are on the increase, but access to treatment and therapy is usually not possible during working hours [10].

Innovative technologies can ensure real-time communication and data recording/sharing over long distances, even within larger groups of participants [11]. Nowadays, privacy, data security, shyness, and pride are among the most frequent reasons to avoid therapy if a mental disease or neuromuscular disorder is related to work or social status [12].

Some patients prefer to remain anonymous and do not want to reveal their problems, even to colleagues. The sense of “total immersion” created by virtual reality (VR) is an emerging technology that may entirely replace mainstream videoconferencing techniques [13]. These technologies may fulfill patient expectations [14] regarding anonymity and enhance presence [15]. Patients can hide their identify using an avatar and their voices can be disguised. Psychologists and other experts may observe the kinematic changes in motion patterns, gestures, face mimics, and other measurable features [12]. If there is a group, the VR avatars can be synchronized and controlled in real time, using cloud-based technologies. The operator can form groups, deliver individual or group tasks, or lead a private conversation with selected participants. We have developed a technology that is available for home and workplace use, called Realizing Collaborative Virtual Reality for Well-being and Self-Healing (ReCoVR), for which the VR headset is coupled with a mobile phone. The only requirement is a connection to Wi-Fi/4G Internet, plus communication with the cloud server allows remote interaction with other users residing thousands of miles away.

This cloud-based app is used for interaction and communication between a mindfulness expert and participants. Each participant uses a commercially available mobile phone and a simple head-mounted VR headset to join the mindfulness session in the virtual environment (VE). Our main objectives were to design a suitable mindfulness protocol based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, with tasks in the VE with 360-degree videos, and to test the feasibility of the developed mindfulness/telemindfulness app in a real environment. Additionally, we analyzed head movements during mindfulness sessions to stimulate further initiatives in this research space. […]

Continue —> JRP-A Cloud-Based Virtual Reality App for a Novel Telemindfulness Service: Rationale, Design and Feasibility Evaluation | Cikajlo | JMIR Research Protocols

Figure 1. The ReCoVR system consists of a cloud server, serving information for the WebGL scenery and synchronization of the data (audio, video, data) between the server and clients. The clients connect to the server as mindfulness experts (using a computer with Web browser) and as mindfulness therapy participants (using Samsung GearVR 3D headset with Wi-Fi/LTE).

Figure 2. The mindfulness instructor uses the Web interface to manage the group therapy in the virtual room. The Web interface enables video-audio communication with the participants (below left), making subgroups, and assigning tasks (right) for mindfulness sessions. Additionally, the therapist can share documents and lead the session, while everybody can send/receive messages and talk to other group members.

 

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[WEB SITE] Magnetic brain stimulation helps “unlearn” crippling fear of heights

 

New research suggests a little magnetic brain stimulation prior to being exposed to your greatest fear...

New research suggests a little magnetic brain stimulation prior to being exposed to your greatest fear in a VR headset could help you “unlearn” your anxiety response(Credit: DanRoss/Depositphotos)

Advances in technology over the last decade have led to a swift rise in the volume of research surrounding transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and its therapeutic effects. A team from the Würzburg University Hospital in Germany has just published a new study demonstrating how TMS, in conjunction with a virtual reality experience, can help alleviate anxiety disorders and essentially help people “unlearn” fears.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation works by directing a targeted magnetic field toward specific areas in the brain. Depending on the frequencies delivered this can either stimulate or inhibit the brain activity of the targeted area. Initially conceived as a research tool allowing scientists to understand exactly what roles certain areas of the brain play, TMS has more recently been explored as a potential new tool for treating an assortment of problems.

TMS devices have already been approved to treat migraines and some major depressive disorders, but other research is looking into its uses as a learning aid and a way to help visually-impaired people navigate the world.

This new study looks at how the technology could improve a patient’s response when used in conjunction with a more traditional treatment method. Anxiety disorders are incredibly debilitating for many, from social phobias to more specific problems such as a fear of heights. Classically, the treatment for people with these disorders has been a type of cognitive behavioral therapy where one is exposed to the source of their anxiety under the supervision of a psychologist.

The team at the Würzburg University Hospital decided to examine whether this kind of classic therapy could be improved using TMS. Previous studies have shown that by targeting the frontal lobe with magnetic stimulation an anxiety response can be reduced, but the new research looks at how this could be incorporated into a specific treatment method for a targeted anxiety.

Even though the subject knows it is fake, exposure to great heights in a virtual reality...

Even though the subject knows it is fake, exposure to great heights in a virtual reality headset still triggers an anxiety response in sufferers(Credit: VTplus)

Thirty-nine subjects with an active fear of heights were split into two groups, including a control group which received fake TMS. The groups received 20 minutes of either real or fake TMS directed at the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, followed by virtual reality exposure to a dizzying height. After two sessions the group treated with the TMS prior to VR exposure exhibited reduced anxiety and avoidance symptoms compared to the control group that didn’t receive the TMS.

“The findings demonstrate that all participants benefit considerably from the therapy in virtual reality and the positive effects of the intervention are still clearly visible even after three months,” explains Professor Martin J. Herrmann, one of the researchers working on the study.

The researchers suggest that adding TMS and VR to an already well-proven treatment process increases the overall efficacy and essentially helps the brain “unlearn” its anxiety responses. The next phase for the study is to look at other forms of anxiety and see if the process is equally effective.

And the next fear that is being tackled? Arachnophobia.

The research was published in the journal Brain Stimulation.

Source: Würzburg University Hospital

Source: Magnetic brain stimulation helps “unlearn” crippling fear of heights

, , , ,

Leave a comment

[WEB SITE] UCLA researchers use noninvasive ultrasound technique to jump-start the brain of coma patient

A 25-year-old man recovering from a coma has made remarkable progress following a treatment at UCLA to jump-start his brain using ultrasound. The technique uses sonic stimulation to excite the neurons in the thalamus, an egg-shaped structure that serves as the brain’s central hub for processing information.

“It’s almost as if we were jump-starting the neurons back into function,” said Martin Monti, the study’s lead author and a UCLA associate professor of psychology and neurosurgery. “Until now, the only way to achieve this was a risky surgical procedure known as deep brain stimulation, in which electrodes are implanted directly inside the thalamus,” he said. “Our approach directly targets the thalamus but is noninvasive.”

Monti said the researchers expected the positive result, but he cautioned that the procedure requires further study on additional patients before they determine whether it could be used consistently to help other people recovering from comas.

“It is possible that we were just very lucky and happened to have stimulated the patient just as he was spontaneously recovering,” Monti said.

A report on the treatment is published in the journal Brain Stimulation. This is the first time the approach has been used to treat severe brain injury.

The technique, called low-intensity focused ultrasound pulsation, was pioneered by Alexander Bystritsky, a UCLA professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and a co-author of the study. Bystritsky is also a founder of Brainsonix, a Sherman Oaks, California-based company that provided the device the researchers used in the study.

That device, about the size of a coffee cup saucer, creates a small sphere of acoustic energy that can be aimed at different regions of the brain to excite brain tissue. For the new study, researchers placed it by the side of the man’s head and activated it 10 times for 30 seconds each, in a 10-minute period.

Monti said the device is safe because it emits only a small amount of energy — less than a conventional Doppler ultrasound.

Before the procedure began, the man showed only minimal signs of being conscious and of understanding speech — for example, he could perform small, limited movements when asked. By the day after the treatment, his responses had improved measurably. Three days later, the patient had regained full consciousness and full language comprehension, and he could reliably communicate by nodding his head “yes” or shaking his head “no.” He even made a fist-bump gesture to say goodbye to one of his doctors.

“The changes were remarkable,” Monti said.

The technique targets the thalamus because, in people whose mental function is deeply impaired after a coma, thalamus performance is typically diminished. And medications that are commonly prescribed to people who are coming out of a coma target the thalamus only indirectly.

Under the direction of Paul Vespa, a UCLA professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the researchers plan to test the procedure on several more people beginning this fall at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Those tests will be conducted in partnership with the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center and funded in part by the Dana Foundation and the Tiny Blue Dot Foundation.

If the technology helps other people recovering from coma, Monti said, it could eventually be used to build a portable device — perhaps incorporated into a helmet — as a low-cost way to help “wake up” patients, perhaps even those who are in a vegetative or minimally conscious state. Currently, there is almost no effective treatment for such patients, he said.

Source: University of California – Los Angeles

Source: UCLA researchers use noninvasive ultrasound technique to jump-start the brain of coma patient

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] Music in Research and Rehabilitation of Disorders of Consciousness: Psychological and Neurophysiological Foundations – Full Text HTML

Abstract

According to a prevailing view, the visual system works by dissecting stimuli into primitives, whereas the auditory system processes simple and complex stimuli with their corresponding features in parallel. This makes musical stimulation particularly suitable for patients with disorders of consciousness (DoC), because the processing pathways related to complex stimulus features can be preserved even when those related to simple features are no longer available. An additional factor speaking in favor of musical stimulation in DoC is the low efficiency of visual stimulation due to prevalent maladies of vision or gaze fixation in DoC patients. Hearing disorders, in contrast, are much less frequent in DoC, which allows us to use auditory stimulation at various levels of complexity.

The current paper overviews empirical data concerning the four main domains of brain functioning in DoC patients that musical stimulation can address: perception (e.g., pitch, timbre, and harmony), cognition (e.g., musical syntax and meaning), emotions, and motor functions. Music can approach basic levels of patients’ self-consciousness, which may even exist when all higher-level cognitions are lost, whereas music induced emotions and rhythmic stimulation can affect the dopaminergic reward-system and activity in the motor system respectively, thus serving as a starting point for rehabilitation.

Continue —> Music in Research and Rehabilitation of Disorders of Consciousness: Psychological and Neurophysiological Foundations

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

WEB SITE: Depressed brains are less ‘plastic’

…The brains of people with depression show a reduced ability to adapt to their environment, a unique study shows.

The research on ‘neuroplasticity’ and depression, is a collaboration between the Black Dog Institute and Neuroscience Research Australia and is reported online in a recent issue of Neuropsychopharmacology.

“We have demonstrated plasticity is reduced when you’re depressed,” says one of the lead researchers, Professor Colleen Loo, from the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales, and colleagues…

via Depressed brains are less ‘plastic’ › News in Science (ABC Science).

, , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: