Brain activation in virtual reality for attention guidance


Virtual Reality (VR) not only offers great opportunities in terms of entertainment, it is also widely applicable in the field of attention guidance, medicine and psychology. The distinction between VR and ordinary media is the 360$$^∘ $$ - also known as omnidirectional - environment. When applying the option of an omnidirectional platform with auditory as well as visual actions, the focus on the right story line within VR is crucial. In order to analyze whether attention guidance in VR activates the same brain regions as in the real world, data of both topographical brain views must be compared. To do so, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), a brain imaging technology, is being utilized. fNIRS is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique, which measures brain oxygenation and by that identifies brain activity. The fNIRS method offers a fast and convenient application and is easily adaptable to the field of VR. In this experiment, the brain activity of 23 participants was examined under two scenarios. The first scenario required the location of click noises when being present in the real world, while the second scenario demanded the same in the virtual reality. The environment of both settings - in the real world as well as in the virtual world - were identical. Each brain picture was analyzed on the basis of a within-subject design. Therefore, all participants were required to experience both settings while wearing fNIRS in order to compare similarities and differences of the recordings. Once all 46 recordings were allocated and broken down by milliseconds, a cortex view through Oxysoft - a software that analyzes and evaluates NIRS recordings - was generated. Despite fNIRS limited recording depth, increased brain activity was detected during the subject’s click orientation. The greatest disparity between the resting phase and the stimulation was visible in the temporal as well as the parietal lobe. Findings also showed that in spite of the stimulated brain regions, the hemoglobin level remained the same in both environments, the real world and the virtual world.

Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)