Virtual Reality now has numerous uses apart from the known applications for example gaming and entertainment to bring a positive impact. For Instance, it is assisting in the treatment of Autism. Autism which is also known as autism spectrum disorder is a mental disorder which has conditions characterized by challenges with social interaction, speech, communication especially non-verbal communication and repetitive behavior which affects mostly children. Gaming in virtual reality (VR) plays a vital role in the treatment of autism.
Gaming in virtual reality could help children with this disorder or other related disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia by assisting them to change their perception of time which makes them perceive differently. This is based on a study done at the University of Waterloo.
According to Weech, a researcher at the University of Waterloo, the ability to estimate the passage of time with precision is fundamental to our ability to interact to the world.” In some individuals the internal clock is adjusted, a situation that leads to time deficiencies that affect perception.
The research by Weech was to understand how the deficiencies might be acquired and how to deal with the perception of time. In his study, which involved 18 females and 13 males with normal vision and sensory musculoskeletal or neurological disorders, the researchers used Robo Recall, a virtual game, to create a natural setting in which to encourage re-calibration of time perception. The study aimed at coupling the speed and duration of visual events to participants body movement.
The participants’ time perception abilities were measured before and after they were exposed to the dynamic VR task. Some of the participants were able to complete non-VR time-perception tasks like throwing a ball, to use as a control comparison. The actual and perceived durations of a moving probe in the time perception tasks was measured. The researchers discovered that virtual reality manipulation could lead to reductions in the participants’ estimates of time, by around 15 percent.
According to Weech, this leads to a conclusion that the perception of time is flexible and that VR offers a potentially reliable tool for recalibrating time in the brain. Weech adds that while the effects were strong during the current study, more research is needed to determine how long the results last, and whether these signals are observable in the brain. “For developing clinical applications, we need to know whether these effects are stable for minutes, days, or weeks afterward. A longitudinal study would provide the answer to this question.”,” said Weech
Photo credit : Wired