Virtual reality therapy

An interactive virtual environment is being developed to increase access to psychological training for patients

There are a number of conditions where a person’s social cognition – how they process social information and apply to different situations – is lowered. These people often find it harder to form and maintain relationships or carry out everyday tasks, which can decrease their well-being. But social cognition training can help improve these skills. In collaboration with the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, this project is looking at whether this training can be effectively delivered through an avatar in a virtual environment.

A familiar home-like virtual environment is being developed where people can play games that train them to understand how other people think and feel. This is done by adapting common psychological methods, such as those that teach people how to identify people’s emotions from facial expressions.

Studies have shown that virtual reality (VR) social training can have advantages for developing certain cognitive skills in particular groups of people, such as social skills in young adults with autism. For this project, the final experience will be tested by researchers to determine whether VR is an affective tool to improve social cognition.

This project is on-going.

Project members

Bernadette Fitzgibbon
Jon McCormack
Su-Yiin Lai
Elliott Wilson