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Objectivos

The PsicoTIC group comprises several researchers within the CEPCA centre that are responsible for:

  1. Developing virtual reality (VR) worlds to treat mental health disorders;
  2. Developing VR worlds to promote cognitive rehabilitation;
  3. Clinically validate these VR applications;
  4. Cognitive, attention and emotions evaluations using eye tracking methodology.

R&D focus of this group is two folded:

FOCUS 1
to investigate the use of VR technologies to treat mental disorders and rehabilitate cognitively impaired individuals. Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) as a form of a CBT approach presents some advantages when compared with the traditional CBT exposure techniques. VRET is able to create worlds that are meaningful and playful, yet controlled by the therapist. For example, it is possible to replace real events, such as, war scenarios or motor vehicles accidents, eliciting traumatic emotions as if the patient was preset. The interactive simulation that VR encloses ensures a rich full sensorial experience similar to an in vivo occurrence. On the other side, the 3D spatial correspondence between movements in the real world and movements in the virtual worlds, which may facilitate real-time performance feedback, is crucial for training purposes. The repetitive practice is an important aspect in motor and cognitive training as it improves performance in disabled patients. These characteristics of VR exercises are fruitful for rehabilitation purposes as while, repeating the exercises, patient’s senses are provided with feedback on the accomplishments achieved during each task.

FOCUS 2
assess attentional processes, cognition functions and emotions through eye tracking Ocularmetrics has long been used to assess attentional processes. Presently, with the eye tracking technology it is also possible the study other cognitive functions and emotional processes. Pupil dilation, a metric measured by the eye tracker, is known to be associated with emotional processing, in the way that displaying both negative and positive stimuli provokes an increase on pupil diameter on a non-clinical sample. Whereas, when neutral stimuli is displayed, the pupil size stays the same. Also pupil dilation was associated with cognitive loadings. It is expected that when processing information about a stimuli that pupil radial muscles are activated and the circular muscles inhibited causing the dilation reflex to occur.