Events & Seminars
MoTIVE Project Seminar Series
24th February, 2020
Mundet Campus, University of Barcelona
Walking together in groups
Merle T. Fairhurst
Much of what we know about how we temporally coordinate with others is based on research on dyadic interaction. However, from sports to group music making to surgical interventions, we often do things together with more than two people and coordinating with a group may not simply scale. Instead it may significantly change how we coordinate with, relate to and feel about ourselves and others. Do we follow the (temporal) leader of the group or instead coordinate our behaviour based on the average performance of the group as a whole? Will we observe scaled outgroup effects such that we behave and feel differently when coordinating with several individuals who are different to ourselves? Departing from tasks involving limb coordination, in this talk I will introduce and discuss a novel task, chosen for its enactive and ecological qualities, that involves the whole body. The immersive quality is particularly important for modulating subjective feelings of agency and implementation into a virtual reality (VR) environment. Data will be shown from two behavioural studies, one in which a participant walks with a group of 8 virtual auditory partners, the other where we tested groups of 7 coordinating individuals. Lastly, I will discuss how this paradigm is being adapted to an audio-visual VR environment to test significantly larger groups sizes and the effect this has on the so-called self-to-other ratio. Using a paradigm that models a typical everyday behaviour, this project describes rich, dynamic interactions between coordinating individuals. Moreover, based on the presented empirical studies, I will discuss how this adds to a richer theoretical account of the self as it relates to others.
MoTIVE Project Seminar Series
In this talk we will present some recent and on-going works about VR from the Graphics and Imaging Lab of the Universidad de Zaragoza. We will focus on advances that aim to improve the overall user experience, and will cover a wide range of topics including storytelling in VR, extension to six degrees of freedom from captured content, or real-to-virtual camera manipulations.
24th January, 2020
The MoTIVE project is an ERC Advanced Grant concerned with reconstructing events from the past in virtual reality and using these for various scientific studies. This symposium will introduce the project by a series of talks from the researchers involved and others.
Event Lab Seminar
Room 1105 Ponent, Facultat de Psicologia, Mundet Campus, Universitat de Barcelona
12.00-13.00, 10th December, 2019
Marta Ferrer-Garcia , Departamento de Personalidad, Evaluación y Tratamientos Psicológicos
Virtual reality-based exposure for the treatment of eating disorders
Since the late nineties, virtual reality (VR) has been increasingly used in the field of clinical psychology research. Gradually, and in parallel to the development of more economical and easier-to-manage VR systems, the use of this technology has also expanded in clinical practice. Virtual reality offers a good alternative to guided imagination and in vivo exposure, and therefore it is very useful for studies and interventions that require exposure to situations of everyday life that cannot be reproduced in the therapist’s office – hence the success of VR-based exposure in the treatment of phobias. In my presentation, I will briefly introduce the main characteristics and uses of VR in the study, assessment, and treatment of eating disorders. I will then focus on two research lines in which our team is currently involved: first, I will discuss the development and efficacy of VR-based cue exposure therapy for the treatment of binge eating-related disorders and present several clinical cases; and second, I will outline the very first steps of a study whose main aim is the development of a VR-based exposure software for the treatment of body image-related anxiety in patients with anorexia nervosa. The advantages and challenges of using virtual reality technology will be addressed.
Event Lab Seminar
Facultat de Psicologia
Universitat de Barcelona
3.00, 5th November, 2019
Human-Avatar Interaction in immersive VR
For the last fifteen years my research focus has been to improve the overall realism of groups of virtual humanoids. I have worked on different aspects of this challenge including rendering, animation and simulation for real-time applications. Immersive Virtual Reality presents an ideal platform to evaluate different aspects of virtual human simulation, from small groups to crowds, but it also offers a platform to study human decisions and reactions based on the behaviour of the virtual humanoids. In my speech I will present results on how we have used perception to evaluate different aspects of crowd simulation. I will cover the complexity of using perception to validate crowd simulation models, with a focus on lessons learned on how the animation itself can strongly affect the evaluation of simulation models. Finally, I will present our most recent work on Immersive Virtual Reality, where we are studying how crowd appearance and movement can have an impact on user behaviour and decision making.
9th October, 2019
Mel Slater (invited speaker) Using Virtual Reality to Reduce Racial Bias and Sexual Harassment, Lausanne, Switzerland
16th July, 2019
Mel Slater (invited talk) Virtual reality in closed-loop learning, in workshop Model-Driven Closed-Loop Technologies for Neuroscience Research
Amazon Workshop, Seattle, USA.
11th June, 2019
Mel Slater (invited talk) Practical Illusions of Virtual Reality
Domna Banakou (invited speaker) Integrative Science Symposium: How Changing Our Bodies changes Our Selves, 3rd Biennial International Convention of Psychological Science, Paris, France.
28th February – 1st March, 2019
This Symposium brings together an interdisciplinary group of computer scientists, roboticists, virtual reality experts and neuroscientists to discuss the science and technology of virtual embodiment.
February 2nd, 2019
Somos sujetos porque tenemos conciencia de nuestras acciones y experiencias; para Descartes, este es un rasgo característico de la especie humana, pero para Foucault, es un efecto de poder y de las disciplinas del yo, y en todo caso, el concepto aparece en periodo histórico y contexto cultural específico de los humanos. En esta sesión proponemos una ficción especulativa: en un mundo donde los robots, la realidad virtual y la realidad aumentada forman parte de todos los aspectos de la vida cotidiana, las nuevas generaciones han dejado de distinguir entre lo virtual y lo real. Convocamos a tres expertos en el estudio de la conciencia y de las emociones -un sociólogo, una neurocientífica y un filósofo de la ciencia- para analizar las consecuencias que esto podría tener para el futuro de la especie humana, en la percepción de nuestro cuerpo y en la construcción de nuestra subjetividad.
Adventures of Identity: From the Double to the Avatar
13-14th December, 2018
Being Someone Else – The Power of Avatar Self Representation
In this talk I will give several examples about the influence of virtual representations on the physiology, behaviour, attitudes and cognition of participants in virtual reality – with examples from learning history through to psychological therapy. I will describe a system where you can have a conversation with yourself from the perspective of different avatars. I will present the results of two experimental studies that suggest that such a scenario, if strange, is nevertheless advantageous with respect the solution of a person’s real-world problems.
Therapeutic Virtual Reality: Lessons Learned from the Clinical Trenches
3rd December, 2018
Brennan Spiegel, MD
Director, Health Services Research in Academic Affairs and Clinical Transformation, Cedars-Sinai Site Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).
Place: Esteve Auditorium, CEK Building,
C/ Rosellón, 149-153
Not so far in the future, in lieu of popping a pill, doctors might prescribe a virtual beach vacation to ease aches and pains. Cardiologists might offer scenic tours of Icelandic fjords to lower blood pressure, instead of doubling up on drugs. Hospitals might immerse children in fantastical play lands while they receive chemotherapy or undergo frightening medical tests. It’s all starting to happen now because of virtual reality (VR). For decades, scientists in elite universities have been quietly discovering the surprising health benefits of VR for ailments ranging from burn injuries, to stroke, to PTSD. Over 3000 studies reveal that VR has an uncanny ability to block pain, calm nerves and boost mental health without drugs and their unwanted side effects. But the technology has been too expensive, unreliable and unwieldy for the research to translate beyond the pages of academic journals and doctoral dissertations… until now. Explosive advances in delivering low-cost, portable and high-quality VR to the masses has spawned a field called Medical VR. In this lecture, Dr. Spiegel will describe frontline stories of using VR in over 3000 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and will review his lab’s latest clinical research, including a recent randomized controlled trial testing VR in the hospital setting. The lecture will also review their new research using VR for blood pressure management, opioid reduction, and pediatrics at Cedars-Sinai.
New Questions for Legislation and Applied Ethics
23rd November 2018
Professor of Theoretical Philosophy Johannes Gutenberg Institute
University of Mainz,
Place: Sala de Graus, Facultat de Psilocologia, Mundet Campus, University of Barcelona.
This introductory lecture will deal with ethical problems of AI research and AI technology, but will also draw attention to possible cultural consequences and the psychosocial follow-up costs. Artificial intelligence and ever more complex algorithms influence our life and civilization more than ever, there are many new issues for applied ethics, for example, value alignment, military applications, accelerated societal stratification, or synthetic phenomenology. Technological progress presents us with historically novel ethical challenges and different stakeholders compete, having different interests and motives. Much of this still sounds like science fiction today – but from a strictly rational, philosophical perspective it is clear that high potential damage levels are to be taken seriously even if their associated probability of occurrence is low.
If time allows, I will also raise the question of whether it might make sense to increasingly implement moral cognitionitselfin artificial systems. Artificial moral reasoners obviously would not suffer from any cognitive biases, they would maximize the impartiality and rationality of ethical judgments, in complex normative task-domains they would certainly operate with much higher speed than humans, and they could integrate a much larger data-base as empirical premises into their ethical decisions than biological brains ever could. At what point would we accept the epistemic authority of ethical AI, for example, if “reflexively” applied to the ethics of AI itself?
- Metzinger, T. (2018a). Towards a Global Artificial Intelligence Charter. In European Parliament (ed.), Should we fear artificial intelligence?PE 614.547
- Mannino, A., Althaus, D., Erhardt, J., Gloor, L., Hutter, A. and Metzinger, T. (2015).Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities and Risks. Policy paper by the Effective Altruism Foundation2:1-16.
- Madary, M. & Metzinger, T. (2016g).Real Virtuality: A Code of Ethical Conduct. Recommendations for Good Scientific Practice and the Consumers of VR-Technology. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 3 (3). doi: 10.3389/frobt.2016.00003 See also: Press release| New Scientist| EU DAE Blog
7th November, 2018
Self-Transformation Through Virtual Embodiment, Keynote by Mel Slater.
In virtual reality you can look around wherever you like, and still of course see virtualreality. What happens when you look down towards yourself or in a virtual mirror? If it has been so programmed you will see a life-sized virtual body replacing your own. You are likely then to have the perceptual illusion that the virtual body is yours, even though you know for sure that it is not. In this talk I will show how this perceptual illusion can be used for various types of self-transformation. In particular I will concentrate on ‘becoming someone else’ and how this can be useful both for self-change and support resistance to peer pressure.
27th September, 2018
Virtual reality in tackling sexual harassment, invited talk Mel Slater.
Embodiment in virtual reality involves visual substitution of their real body by a life-sized virtual body seen from their first person perspective. The virtual body can be programmed to move synchronously and in correspondence with their real movements, based on real- time motion capture. Typically participants will have the strong illusion that the virtual body is their own. Our previous work has shown how such embodiment can lead to changes in physiology such as responses to pain, behaviours and attitudes. Here we show how this concept has been used to tackle sexual harassment of women by groups of men, and also its application in diminishing recidivism amongst domestic violence offenders.
Virtual Reality as a Transformative Technology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
19th June 2018
Close Encounters with Your Virtual Self, invited talk by Mel Slater.
In this talk I will explore three illusions of virtual reality: the illusion of being in the virtual place, the illusion that what is happening is real, and the illusion of body ownership. I will give examples of how body ownership over a body that is quite different to your own (e.g., age, race, gender, size) can lead to changes in physiology, behaviour, attitudes and cognition. I will give examples of where these illusions have been used to positive effect such as in clinical psychology, and a particular example of self-to-self interaction.
15th June, 2018
From Synchronous Touch to Self-Transformation – Using Virtual Reality to Change the Self, Keynote talk by Mel Slater.
Botvinick and Cohen published a one page paper in Nature in 1998 called “Rubber hands ‘feel’ touch that eyes see.” This showed how you can have the illusion that a rubber hand is part of your body simply by tapping it while you feel the taps synchronously on your out-of-sight real hand. The same illusion has been produced in virtual reality. Additionally in VR you can look around wherever you like, and still of course see virtualreality. What happens when you look down towards yourself or in a virtual mirror? If it has been so programmed you will see a life-sized virtual body replacing your own. You are likely then to have the perceptual illusion that the virtual body is yours, even though you know for sure that it is not. In this talk I will describe this perceptual illusion, and examine its far reaching consequences.
The Neurobiology of Moral Conscience
4-8th June, 2018
Perspective taking and immoral behaviour in immersive virtual reality, by Solène Neyret.
This presentation discussed an experiment involving how men experiencing a situation of sexual harassment of a woman from different perspectives might later respond in another situation that involved potential aggression towards a virtual woman. We found that those who had experienced the situation from the point of view of the woman were much less aggressive in the later task than those who had only experienced the situation from the point of view of a man. Our results support the idea that this method could be used in a training situation, to overcome social desirability leading individuals to engage into immoral behaviour in order to maintain their status inside a social group.
6th June, 2018
Me, Myself and My Virtual Body, an invited talk by Mel Slater.
In this talk I will explore the illusion of virtual ownership and its consequences, in particular showing that the type of virtual body can influence your physiology, behaviours, implicit attitudes and biases, your perception and even cognition. If profound aspects of ourselves, not only who we are but also the sense of our own agency, can be so easily and rapidly altered, with some evidence that the effects may be long lasting, then who are we? What does this mean for the future when it possible that a significant amount of the human experience may be in virtual worlds?
26th April, 2018
Self Transformation Through Virtual Reality, Mel Slater
In virtual reality you can look around wherever you like, and still of course see virtualreality. What happens when you look down towards yourself or in a virtual mirror? If it has been so programmed you will see a life-sized virtual body replacing your own. You are likely then to have the perceptual illusion that the virtual body is yours, even though you know for sure that it is not. In this talk I will describe this perceptual illusion, and examine its far reaching consequences.
7th April, 2018
Mavi Sanchez-Vives talks about how VR technology is poised to take the world by storm but where the true value of the technology isn’t in entertainment. Mavi Sanchez-Vives is a neuroscientist and founder of a company using VR technology to help patients and users learn to manage physical and psychological issues using virtual reality. She works with a concept called ‘embodiment’ which relates to how we see ourselves within VR. If the perspective is in the first person, we ‘become’ the avatar and start to relate to them. Mavi and her team have used this technology with the Department of Justice in Catalonia with perpetrators of domestic violence.
6th Apri, 2018
“Self Transformation Through Virtual Reality”, keynote talk by Mel Slater.
In virtual reality you can look around wherever you like, and still of course see virtual reality. What happens when you look down towards yourself or in a virtual mirror? If it has been so programmed you will see a life-sized virtual body replacing your own. You are likely then to have the perceptual illusion that the virtual body is yours, even though you know for sure that it is not. In this talk I will describe this perceptual illusion, and examine its far reaching consequences.
8-9th March, 2018
This workshop brings together experts from within and outside the Human Brain Project to discuss the relationship between brain and body from the point of view of philosophy, neuroscience, computer science, engineering and robotics. Each topic will be introduced by an expert in the field followed by debate and discussion. Attendees will learn about the Neurorobotics Sub-Project of the Human Brain Project in particular and about the fundamental scientific and practical questions that the brain-body relationship raises. They will have the chance to ask questions and debate with the expert speakers.
16th January, 2018, 18.00-20.00
JZ Young LT, Anatomy Building, UCL, London, hosted by the UCL Neuroscience Society.
Come along to learn how Virtual Reality can help us to study and understand the brain and what happens to our mind while in VR.
The Speakers include:
Dr Adam Kampff, Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, PhD in Neuroscience at Harvard University
Prof. Neil Burgess, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology
Prof. Mel Slater, UCL Department of Computer Sciences & University of Barcelona
Prof. Maria Sanchez-Vives, System Neuroscience Group, IDIBAPS, Barcelona