Research Title: The perceptual experience of body ownership in virtual reality (VR)
Supervisor: Associated Professor Juno Kim
Co-supervisor: Professor Branka Spehar
Virtual reality (VR) has revolutionised human experiences, immersing individuals in lifelike scenarios through interactive technology and remote social engagement. This study delves into intricate multisensory interactions shaping presence, agency, and the perception of body ownership in VR. Employing a head-mounted display, we investigate how the alignment of visual and proprioceptive cues influences hand-eye coordination accuracy, presence, body ownership, and agency in VR. Our hypotheses explore the impact of visual-proprioceptive offset and vibrational somatosensory feedback on these constructs.
The study consists of two VR experiments scrutinising the effects of multisensory integration and visual-proprioceptive offset. The initial experiment assesses multisensory integration's influence on human perceptions and performance. We modulate visual, tactile, and auditory stimuli and systematically vary virtual hand offset relative to real hands. This offset entails artificially inducing medial/lateral spatial disparity between the virtual hand representation and its physical position in the real world. In a series of 90-second training tasks, participants use virtual mallets to hit virtual orbs in a hand-eye coordination challenge. We systematically manipulate vibrational feedback presence, along with simulated virtual hands holding the mallets. Results reveal significant effects of visual hand offset, vibration, and virtual hand presentation on accuracy, perceived body ownership, agency, and task performance. Linear inter-correlations underscore the interdependence of presence, perceived bodily ownership, and agency.
In a follow-up experiment, we examine the extinction of associative learning between vision and proprioception during hand offset training through repetitive strikes on a virtual target. Notably, significant main effects emerge for the first and second strikes on medial adaptation and solely for the first strike on lateral adaptation. These findings robustly support the role of multisensory integration in associative learning, highlighting HMD VR's potential as a platform to alter sensorimotor weighting.
Aligned with the rubber hand illusion phenomenon, our research advances comprehension of virtual bodily ownership in VR, yielding applications across fields like medicine, education, and rehabilitation. Implications encompass the pivotal roles of presence and multisensory integration in shaping behavioral outcomes within HMD VR training activities.
I am currently pursuing an MPhil degree at UNSW with a profound interest in conducting pioneering research at the intersection of virtual reality, neuroscience, and medicine. My academic journey began with graduation from the Medical School at the Islamic Azad University of Tehran in 2009. I possess a fervent passion for exploring the potential of virtual reality applications in advancing our understanding of the brain and its applications in medical contexts. This academic pursuit stems from my dedication to bridging the gap between cutting-edge technology and healthcare solutions. Through my studies, I aspire to contribute novel insights to the ever-evolving landscape of neuroscience and medical research.
Affliations and Memberships
Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran