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Jan 09, 2010

Sense of agency primes manual motor responses

Sense of agency primes manual motor responses.

Perception. 2009;38(1):69-78

Authors: Longo MR, Haggard P

Perceiving the body influences how we perceive and respond to stimuli in the world. We investigated the respective effects of different components of bodily representation--the senses of ownership and agency--on responses to simple visual stimuli. Participants viewed a video image of their hand on a computer monitor presented either in real time, or with a systematic delay. Blocks began with an induction period in which the index finger was (i) brushed, (ii) passively moved, or (iii) actively moved by the participant. Subjective reports showed that the sense of ownership over the seen hand emerged with synchronous video, regardless of the type of induction, whereas the sense of agency over the hand emerged only following synchronous video with active movement. Following induction, participants responded as quickly as possible to the onset of visual stimuli near the hand by pressing a button with their other hand. Reaction time was significantly speeded when participants had a sense of agency over their seen hand. This effect was eliminated when participants responded vocally, suggesting that it reflects priming of manual responses, rather than enhanced stimulus detection. These results suggest that vision of one's own hand-and, specifically, the sense of agency over that hand-primes manual motor responses.

Dec 08, 2009

Impact of the virtual reality on the neural representation of an environment

Impact of the virtual reality on the neural representation of an environment.

Hum Brain Mapp. 2009 Dec 4;

Authors: Mellet E, Laou L, Petit L, Zago L, Mazoyer B, Tzourio-Mazoyer N

Despite the increasing use of virtual reality, the impact on cerebral representation of topographical knowledge of learning by virtual reality rather than by actual locomotion has never been investigated. To tackle this challenging issue, we conducted an experiment wherein participants learned an immersive virtual environment using a joystick. The following day, participants' brain activity was monitored by functional magnetic resonance imaging while they mentally estimated distances in this environment. Results were compared with that of participants performing the same task but having learned the real version of the environment by actual walking. We detected a large set of areas shared by both groups including the parieto-frontal areas and the parahippocampal gyrus. More importantly, although participants of both groups performed the same mental task and exhibited similar behavioral performances, they differed at the brain activity level. Unlike real learners, virtual learners activated a left-lateralized network associated with tool manipulation and action semantics. This demonstrated that a neural fingerprint distinguishing virtual from real learning persists when subjects use a mental representation of the learnt environment with equivalent performances. Hum Brain Mapp, 2010. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Nov 18, 2009

RAVE 2010 - Real Actions in Virtual Environments - Call for Papers

RAVE 2010 - Real Actions in Virtual Environments - Call for Papers

See website: http://www.raveconference.com

* When: 3rd March, 2010.

* Where:

Palau de les Heures, University of Barcelona, Campus Mundet, Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron, 171 08035 Barcelona.

* Keynote Speaker - Dr Hunter Hoffman,

http://www.hitl.washington.edu/people/hunter/, University of Washington, USA

* Papers -  may be submitted directly for oral presentation at the conference and a special issue of PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, MIT Press, to be published in August 2010.

* Abstracts may be submitted for oral presentation at the conference or will presented as posters (see website for details).

***Deadline for paper submission: 8th January, 2010*** 23.59 Central European Time (Paris, Madrid)

Oct 20, 2009

Inducing a virtual hand ownership illusion through a brain-computer interface

Inducing a virtual hand ownership illusion through a brain-computer interface.

Neuroreport. 2009 Apr 22;20(6):589-594

Authors: Perez-Marcos D, Slater M, Sanchez-Vives MV

The apparently stable brain representation of our bodies is easily challenged. We have recently shown that the illusion of ownership of a three-dimensional virtual hand can be evoked through synchronous tactile stimulation of a person's hidden real hand and that of the virtual hand. This reproduces the well-known rubber-hand illusion, but in virtual reality. Here we show that some aspects of the illusion can also occur through motor imagery used to control movements of a virtual hand. When movements of the virtual hand followed motor imagery, the illusion of ownership of the virtual hand was evoked and muscle activity measured through electromyogram correlated with movements of the virtual arm. Using virtual bodies has a great potential in the fields of physical and neural rehabilitation, making the understanding of ownership of a virtual body highly relevant.

Jun 15, 2009

Equivalence of Real-World and Virtual-Reality Route Learning

Equivalence of Real-World and Virtual-Reality Route Learning: A Pilot Study.

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Jun 10;

Authors: Lloyd J, Persaud NV, Powell TE

Abstract There is good evidence for effective transfer of learning from virtual to real-world environments, and this holds true even for complex spatial tasks such as route learning. However, there is little research into the simple equivalence of an individual's performance across real and virtual environments, an important topic which could support the use of virtual reality as an assessment and research tool. This pilot study compared route-learning performance in a desktop virtual town with performance around a real-world route. Participants were "driven" around a route through a virtual town and around a different (but equally complex) route through a real-world suburb, then asked to direct the driver back around each of the routes from memory. They completed strategy checklists after learning each route. Results indicated good equivalence between the real and virtual environments, with comparable error rates and no differences in strategy preferences. This demonstrates that simple desktop virtual environments may be a useful tool for assessment of and research into route learning.

May 25, 2009

4th XVR Workshop & Joint PRESENCCIA and SKILLS PhD Symposium

PRESENCCIA and SKILLS are two integrated projects that both aim to advance Virtual Reality technology. These projects are highly interdisciplinary encompassing, among others, computer science, robotics, engineering, interaction design, cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology and philosophy. All these fields, however diverse their interests, come together in the goal of integrating human interaction in mixed and virtual reality environments in order to enhance the user’s experience and enabling him to act and interact in a natural and familiar way by means of enactive paradigms.

The most interesting, challenging and useful digital environments are social, focussing on supporting (group) interaction between real people and other remote people or real people and virtual people. The aim is to understand, track and give appropriate feedback in verbal, non-verbal and implicit interactions while also making digital content more believable and intelligent.

Likewise, a number of methods need to be developed allowing users of virtual environments to not only perform actions effectively in a variety of different scenarios but also be able to choose from a repertoire of suitable actions. This requires adequate digital representations of human skills and also techniques to capture, interpret and deliver them by means of multimodal interfaces, robotics and virtual environments within enactive interaction paradigms.

At the low-level end of the spectrum we also aim to understand the neural basis of presence and its response. Its enhancement and its application is the fundamental object of study from many different points of view, and including visual, haptic and auditory modalities.

To participate to the Workshop, please register on line:

Keynote Speakers

Salvatore Maria Aglioti, Psychology Department , Università di Roma "La Sapienza” and IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, Roma (http://w3.uniroma1.it/aglioti/) ù

Flesh made Soul: Bodies in the Brain.

Talking about the body implies talking about the very “special object” that allows a deep interconnection between the ability to have self-consciousness and the ability to experience a world of objects. My talk will be based on the studies in healthy and brain damaged subjects we performed in the past fifteen years on the neural representation of the body. I will put forward the idea that, although trivially made of flesh, blood and bones, the body can be considered the “psychic object” par excellence, which mediates and implements a variety of complex functions, ranging from the notion of self to social interactions and negotiations.

Jan Peters, Dept. Empirical Inference, Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tuebingen, Germany (http://www-clmc.usc.edu/~jrpeters/)

Towards Motor Skill Learning in Robotics.

Autonomous robots that can assist humans in situations of daily life have been a long standing vision of robotics, artificial intelligence,
and cognitive sciences. A first step towards this goal is to create robots that can learn tasks triggered by environmental context or higher level instruction. However, learning techniques have yet to live up to  this promise as only few methods manage to scale to high-dimensional manipulator or humanoid robots. In this talk, we investigate a general framework suitable for learning motor skills in robotics which is based on the principles behind many analytical robotics approaches. We propose new, task-appropriate architectures, such as the Natural Actor-Critic and the PoWER algorithm.
and cognitive sciences. A first step towards this goal is to create robots that can learn tasks triggered by environmental context or higher level instruction. However, learning techniques have yet to live up to  this promise as only few methods manage to scale to high-dimensional manipulator or humanoid robots. In this talk, we investigate a general framework suitable for learning motor skills in robotics which is based on the principles behind many analytical robotics approaches. We propose new, task-appropriate architectures, such as the Natural Actor-Critic and the PoWER algorithm.

Apr 29, 2009

Ultimate virtual reality will trigger five senses

Via New Scientist

The New Scientist reports that researchers at University of York and the University of Warwick are designing a device able to manipulate five of a person's senses, to provide them with the illusion of being somewhere else.

Jan 20, 2009

Spatial aspects of bodily self-consciousness

Spatial aspects of bodily self-consciousness.

Conscious Cogn. 2008 Dec 22;

Authors: Lenggenhager B, Mouthon M, Blanke O

Visual, somatosensory, and perspectival cues normally provide congruent information about where the self is experienced. Separating those cues by virtual reality techniques, recent studies found that self-location was systematically biased to where a visual-tactile event was seen. Here we developed a novel, repeatable and implicit measure of self-location to compare and extend previous protocols. We investigated illusory self-location and associated phenomenological aspects in a lying body position that facilitates clinically observed abnormal self-location (as on out-of-body experiences). The results confirm that the self is located to where touch is seen. This leads to either predictable lowering or elevation of self-localization, and the latter was accompanied by sensations of floating, as during out-of-body experiences. Using a novel measurement we show that the unitary and localized character of the self can be experimentally separated from both the origin of the visual perspective and the location of the seen body, which is compatible with clinical data.

Mar 20, 2008

2nd PEACH Summer School: Technologies and Applications - Dubrovnik, Croatia

Event Date: 9 July 2008 to 11 July 2008
Are you a presence researcher or PhD student? Are you looking to find out more about the latest presence research, technologies and applications? If so then the second PEACH Summer School is for you.

PEACH is an EU FP6 Coordination Action on Presence. Its objective is to stimulate, structure and support the presence research community, with a special focus on the challenges associated with the interdisciplinary character of the field. It also has the objective of producing visions and roadmaps to support ongoing and future research. The Summer School is the ideal place to join the leaders in the field for a series of lectures and presentations. There are also working groups, which will focus on the latest technologies and applications along with poster/demo sessions where you will present your work to other attendees and experts.

Prof Mel Slater, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (PRESENCCIA IP-EU Project)
Prof Franco Tecchia, PERCRO - Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
Prof Mavi Sanchez-Vives, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (PRESENCCIA IP-EU Project)
Prof Selim Balcisoy, Sabanci University
Prof Benoit Macq, Université catholique de Louvain
Dr Xavier Marichal, Alterface S.A.
Dr Ralph Schroeder, Oxford Internet Institute
Dr Eric Meyer, Oxford Internet Institute
Prof Jeremy Bailenson, Stanford University
Prof Dominic Massaro, University of California, Santa Cruz
Prof Miriam Reiner, Technion (PRESENCCIA and IMMERSENCE IP-EU Project)
Fulvio Dominici, Ultramundum Foundation
Gianluca Zaffiro, Telecom Italia
Prof Igor Pandžić, University of Zagreb
Dr Marco Gillies, University College London
Dr Rod McCall, Fraunhofer FIT (IPCity EU Project)
Claudia Redaelli, ITIA
Prof. Martyn Bracewell, University of Wales, Bangor

The deadline for registration is the 18th April.

Nov 17, 2007

Consciousness Reframed 9

Consciousness Reframed 9: Vienna: July 3-5, 2008
Call for Papers - Consciousness Reframed is an international research conference that was first convened in 1997, and is now in its 9th incarnation. It is a forum for transdisciplinary inquiry into art, science, technology and consciousness, drawing upon the expertise and insights of artists, architects, performers, musicians, writers, scientists, and scholars, usually from at least 20 countries. Recent past conferences were convened in Beijing and Perth, Western Australia. This year, the conference will be held on the main campus of the University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria. The conference will include researchers associated with the Planetary Collegium, which has its CAiiA- hub at Plymouth and nodes at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arte, Milan, and the Zurcher Hochschule der Kunste, Zurich.

Call for Papers: New Realities: Being Syncretic - We cordially invite submissions from artists, theorists and researchers engaged in exploring the most urgent issues in the realm of hybrid inquiries into the fields of art, science, technology and society through theory and practice alike. We specifically encourage submissions that re-frame the concept of innovation in its relationship to progress and change within the context of perception and its transformation.

The Conference will be accompanied by a Book of Abstracts and the Conference Proceedings including full papers and a DVD, due to be released autumn 2008 by the renowned scientific publisher SpringerWienNewYork.

Apr 11, 2007

Summer school on Presence

Via Usability News

Event Date: 4 July 2007 to 6 July 2007
The First PEACH Summer School: 4-6th July 2007, Santorini Greece
"Towards Human Machine Confluence - Presence Technologies and Foundations"

Are you a PRESENCE researcher or PhD student? Are you looking to find out more about the latest presence research, methodologies and technologies? If so then the first PEACH Summer School is for you.

Registration deadline: 20th April 2007

PEACH is a FP6 Coordination Action on Presence. Its objective is to stimulate structure and support the Presence research community, with special attention to the challenges associated with the interdisciplinary character of the field, and to produce visions and roadmaps to support the construction of the Presence ERA. The Summer School is the ideal place to join the leaders in the field for a series of lectures and presentations. There are also working groups, which will focus on the latest technologies, applications and measurement techniques along with a poster session where you can present your work to other attendees and experts.

Prof David Benyon, Napier University
Dr Wijnand IJsselsteijn, Eidhoven University of Technology (Pasion IP-EU Project)
Dr Paul Verschure, University Pompeu Fabra (Presenccia)
Prof Mel Slater, University College London (Presenccia IP-EU Project, Immersence IP-EU Project)
Dr Christoph Gurger, Guger Technologies OEG BMI (Presenccia)
Dr Maria Victoria Sánchez Vives, Universidad Miguel Hernández-CSIC (Presenccia IP-EU Project)
Prof John Waterworth, Umea University
Dr Doron Friedman, University College London, (Presenccia IP-EU Project)
Dr Robert Bracewell, Universities of Birmingham and Wales, (Immersence IP-EU Project)
Dr Luciano Gamberini, University of Padua (Pasion)
Dr Wolfgang Broll, Fraunhofer (IP City-EU Project)
Dr Giullio Jacucci, Fraunhofer (IP City-EU Project)

Feb 24, 2007

Performing Presence: From the Live to the Simulated

Uploaded Image


from the project website:


what creates a sense of presence? - the presence of a live performer ... the presence of the past ... in a memory ... in ruined remains ... the sense of 'being there' in an online community ... in a VR or mixed reality environment ...

The Presence Project is exploring such questions through a documentation of extended processes engaging with presence. Follow these links to explore our work with Lynn Hershman Leeson | Gary Hill | Tony Oursler | Blast Theory | The Builders Association | Paul Sermon

We are also fully documenting a series of performance workshops, led by Tim Etchells | Bella Merlin | Vayu Naidu | Mike Pearson and Mike Brookes | Fiona Templeton | Phillip Zarrilli

In 2007 and 2008 The Presence Project will be conducting two exercises at UCL's CAVE, the first of which is now in development.

Dec 03, 2006

Presence: a unique characteristic in educational virtual environments

Via VRoot

Presence: a unique characteristic in educational virtual environments

Virtual Reality Journal, Volume 10, Number 3-4 / December, 2006, Pages 197-206.

Author: Tassos A. Mikropoulos

This article investigates the effect of presence on learning outcomes in educational virtual environments (EVEs) in a sample of 60 pupils aged between 11 and 13 years. We study the effect of personal presence, social presence and participant’s involvement on certain learning outcomes. We also investigate if the combination of the participant’s representation model in the virtual environment (VE) with the way it is presented gives a higher sense of presence that contributes to learning outcomes. Our results show that the existence of an avatar as the pupils’ representation enhanced presence and helped them to successfully perform their learning tasks. The pupils had a high sense of presence for both cases of the EVE presentation, projection on a wall and through a head mounted display (HMD). Our socialized virtual environment seems to play an important role in learning outcomes. The pupils had a higher sense of presence and completed their learning tasks more easily and successfully in the case of their egocentric representation model using the HMD.

Oct 08, 2006

Flow in collaborative virtual environments

Factors influencing flow of object focussed collaboration in collaborative virtual environments

Virtual Reality Journal, Springer London, Volume 10, Number 2 / October, 2006, Pages 119-133.

Authors: David Roberts, Ilona Helda, Oliver Otto and Robin Wolff

Creativity is believed to be helped by an uncluttered state of mind known as flow and as the trend grows towards less immersive displays to produce an uncluttered workplace, we ask the question “Does immersion matter to the flow of distributed group work?”. The aim of this work is to study the impact of level of immersion on workflow and presence during object focussed distributed group work, and to discuss the relevance of these and other factors to supporting flow and creativity.

Oct 07, 2006

Spatial updating in virtual reality

Spatial updating in virtual reality: the sufficiency of visual information.

Psychol Res. 2006 Sep 23;

Authors: Riecke BE, Cunningham DW, Bülthoff HH

Robust and effortless spatial orientation critically relies on "automatic and obligatory spatial updating", a largely automatized and reflex-like process that transforms our mental egocentric representation of the immediate surroundings during ego-motions. A rapid pointing paradigm was used to assess automatic/obligatory spatial updating after visually displayed upright rotations with or without concomitant physical rotations using a motion platform. Visual stimuli displaying a natural, subject-known scene proved sufficient for enabling automatic and obligatory spatial updating, irrespective of concurrent physical motions. This challenges the prevailing notion that visual cues alone are insufficient for enabling such spatial updating of rotations, and that vestibular/proprioceptive cues are both required and sufficient. Displaying optic flow devoid of landmarks during the motion and pointing phase was insufficient for enabling automatic spatial updating, but could not be entirely ignored either. Interestingly, additional physical motion cues hardly improved performance, and were insufficient for affording automatic spatial updating. The results are discussed in the context of the mental transformation hypothesis and the sensorimotor interference hypothesis, which associates difficulties in imagined perspective switches to interference between the sensorimotor and cognitive (to-be-imagined) perspective.

Oct 05, 2006

Teliris Launches VirtuaLive with HSL's Thoughts and Analysis

Via Human Productivity Lab

GlobalTable VirtuaLive 360 Front.jpg

Teliris, a company that develops telepresence solutions, has announced its 4th generation offering. From the press release:

The VirtuaLive(TM) enhanced technology provides the most natural and intimate virtual meeting environment on the market, and is available in a broad set of room offerings designed to meet the specific needs of its customers.

Building on Teliris' third generation GlobalTable(TM) telepresence solutions, VirtuaLive(TM) provides enhanced quality video and broadband audio, realistically replicating an in-person meeting experience by capturing and transmitting the most subtle visual gestures and auditory cues.

"All future Teliris solutions will fall under the VirtuaLive(TM) umbrella of offerings," said Marc Trachtenberg, Teliris CEO. "With such an advanced technology platform and range of solutions, companies can select the immersive experience that best fits their business environment and goals."

VirtuaLive's(TM) next generation of Virtual Vectoring(TM) is at the center of the new offerings. It provides users with unparalleled eye-to-eye contact from site-to-site in multipoint meetings with various numbers of participants within each room. No other vendor offering can match the natural experience created by advanced technology in such diverse environments.

Social behavior and norms in virtual environments are comparable to those in the physical world

Nick Yee and colleagues at Stanford University have investigated whether social behavior and norms in virtual environments are comparable to those in the physical world. To this end, they collected data from avatars in Second Life, in order to explore whether social norms of gender, interpersonal distance (IPD), and eye gaze transfer into virtual environments even though the modality of movement is entirely different.
"Results showed that established findings of IPD and eye gaze transfer into virtual environments: 1) Malemale dyads have larger IPDs than female-female dyads, 2) male-male dyads maintain less eye contact than female-female dyads, and 3) decreases in IPD are compensated with gaze avoidance"
According to Yee and coll., these findings suggest that social interactions in online virtual environments are governed by the same social norms as social interactions in the physical world.

Yee, N., Bailenson, J.N. & Urbanek, M. (2006). The unbearable likeness of being digital: The persistence of nonverbal social norms in online virtual environments. Cyberspace and Behaviour, In Press.


Sep 17, 2006

How computer gamers experience the game situation

Delwin Clarke, P. Robert Duimering.

Computers in Entertainment (CIE), Volume 4 ,  Issue 3  (July 2006)

Very little is known about computer gamers' playing experience. Most social scientific research has treated gaming as an undifferentiated activity associated with various factors outside the gaming context. This article considers computer games as behavior settings worthy of social scientific investigation in their own right and contributes to a better understanding of computer gaming as a complex, context-dependent, goal-directed activity. The results of an exploratory interview-based study of computer gaming within the "first-person shooter" (FPS) game genre are reported. FPS gaming is a fast-paced form of goal-directed activity that takes place in complex, dynamic behavioral environments where players must quickly make sense of changes in their immediate situation and respond with appropriate actions. Gamers' perceptions and evaluations of various aspects of the FPS gaming situation are documented, including positive and negative aspects of game interfaces, map environments, weapons, computer-generated game characters (bots), multiplayer gaming on local area networks (LANs) or the internet, and single player gaming. The results provide insights into the structure of gamers' mental models of the FPS genre by identifying salient categories of their FPS gaming experience. It is proposed that aspects of FPS games most salient to gamers were those perceived to be most behaviorally relevant to goal attainment, and that the evaluation of various situational stimuli depended on the extent to which they were perceived either to support or to hinder goal attainment. Implications for the design of FPS games that players experience as challenging, interesting, and fun are discussed.

Sep 16, 2006

TelePresence World 2007

TelePresence World 2007, will be held June 4-6, 2007 at the University of San Diego.

University of San Diego.jpg

The TelePresence World event series seeks to introduce telepresence technologies and explore their use in industry, government, education, medical and other fields.

Event delegates will have the opportunity to debate and discuss the revolutionary technological developments that have brought telepresence from the realm of science fiction to the reality of everyday business.

To demonstrate the power of telepresence and unified communications to bridge distance and bring people together, TelePresence World 2007 will include a concurrent exhibition to be held in the university's 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art pavilion.

Download the entire press release as a .pdf

Download the event "one-pager" as a .pdf


Feb 22, 2006

Social puppet to train soldiers

Via Smart Mobs

'Social Puppet,' is a 3D simulation program created to help soldiers learn unfamiliar languages by interacting with animated characters. For this project, financed by DARPA, the researchers have given on-screen characters human non-verbal communication behaviors.

The software has been designed by Hannes Högni Vilhjálmsson of the University of Southern California (USC) Information Sciences Institute.

read full article here

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