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INForum'2017 - José Maria Fernandes


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Date 2017/10/12
Title Psychophysiology assessment tool using Virtual Reality
Speaker José Maria Fernandes
Event INForum'2017
Location Aveiro
Country Portugal

ABSTRACT. Anxiety disorders affect individuals all over the world, conditioning their daily life routines. Specific phobia is one example of an anxiety disorder, which is an irrational fear towards an object, or situation. The treatment of specific phobias is gradually changing, with a growing body of studies showing that VR is as effective as in vivo therapies in anxiety disorders, with the benefit of being less aversive to the individual. The evolution of technology and the miniaturization brought to the foreground, not only allows the development of portable solutions for the assessment of psychological and behavior but also new possibilities to mimic the real world, like VR outside of the laboratory setting. We propose Veracity, a system for monitoring individual's physiological and behaviour responses. The selected case study was specific phobia, more specifically, spider phobia. The system implementation allows the acquisition of multimodal information, while the individual is confronted with a scenario that uses hand gesture, combined with VR, to present the stimulus and capture the corresponding responses (ECG, HR, VIDEO), using external resources and a smartphone application. A statistical analysis of a trial case study with 5 participants, showed that there is an increase in the participant's HR median and dispersion values, in response to spiders, when compared to the absence of such fear stimulus. Veracity ability to customize the virtual stimuli provides enough versatility to foster its usefulness in clinical practice as a solution to monitor and elicit natural reactions from individuals with specific phobias.