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Virtual reality (VR) is useful for treating several psychological problems, including phobias such as fear of flying, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, and phobia to insects and small animals. We believe that augmented reality (AR) could also be used to treat some psychological disorders. AR and VR share some advantages over traditional treatments. However, AR gives a greater feeling of presence (the sensation of being there) and reality judgment (judging an experience as real) than VR because the environment and the elements the patient uses to interact with the application are real. Moreover, in AR users see their own hands, feet, and so on, whereas VR only simulates this experience. With these differences in mind, the question arises as to the kinds of psychological treatments AR and VR are most suited for. In our system, patients see their own hands, feet, and so on. They can touch the table that animals are crossing or seeing their feet while the animals are running on the floor. They can also hold a marker with a dead spider or cockroach or pick up a flyswatter, a can of insecticide, or a dustpan.
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Using Augmented Reality to Treat Phobias
Juan, M.C.
1
, Botella, C.
2
, Baños, R.
3
, Alcañiz, M.
1
, Guerrero, B.
3
, Monserrat, C.
1
1
MedICLab (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia)
2
Departamento de Psicología Básica y Psicobiología (UJI)
3
Universidad de Valencia
1. INTRODUCTION
Virtual reality is useful for treating several psychological
problems, including phobias such as fear of flying,
agoraphobia, claustrophobia, and phobia to insects and
small animals.
1-5
For example, Carlin et al.,
1
Renaud et
al.,
2
and Garcia et al.
3
used VR to treat arachnophobia.
Botella et al.’s telepsychology system used VR to treat
phobia to insects and small animals (cockroaches,
spiders, and rats).
4
We believe that augmented reality (AR) could also be
used to treat some psychological disorders. AR and VR
share some advantages over traditional treatments, as
Table 1 shows. However, AR gives a greater feeling of
presence (the sensation of being there) and reality
judgment (judging an experience as real) than VR
because the environment and the elements the patient
uses to interact with the application are real. Moreover, in
AR users see their own hands, feet, and so on, whereas
VR only simulates this experience. With these differences
in mind, the question arises as to the kinds of
psychological treatments AR and VR are most suited for.
AR could be suitable when the following two premises are
met:
when patients can use real elements to interact with
the application, such as their hands and feet; and
when it’s possible to use or reproduce the real
environment (with little cost or time) or to use an
alternative environment.
If both premises aren’t satisfied, VR might be preferable.
Because neither AR nor VR are a panacea, the phobia
type will determine the most appropriate technology to
use.
We have developed an AR system for treating phobias
to spiders and cockroaches. In our system, patients see
their own hands touching a table, holding a marker with a
dead spider or cockroach, and picking up a flyswatter, a
can of insecticide, or a dustpan.
TABLE
1
A
DVANTAGES OF AR AND VR WITH RESPECT TO TRADITIONAL
TREATMENTS FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS
Traditional treatment AR and VR treatment
The place where the
treatment takes place is
real, and the elements that
the patient fears are also
real. Therefore, these
elements may not behave
as the therapist desires
The elements that the
patient fears are virtual, so
they cannot hurt him/her
It might be necessary to
actually go to the location
that the patient fears, or to
recreate it. Access to this
place could be complicated
and the therapy might
require several sessions
In AR or VR scenes, the
virtual elements can
appear whenever the
therapist wants. Access to
the scene is as easy as
running the program
The order that stimuli are
produced in is not
controlled by the therapist
Stimuli generation is
controlled by the therapist,
and the stimuli can be
repeated as many times as
necessary. The order of
appearance of virtual
elements can also be
controlled. The therapist
can start/stop the program
at any time
The therapist cannot
assure that the patient will
be completely safe during
the treatment
The virtual elements are
not real, which means that
there is no real danger to
the patient
The real place could be
public. The patient might
suffer a panic attack during
the treatment, and it might
be embarrassing for both
the therapist and the
patient
The place where the
program is run is chosen
by the therapist, so he/she
can control all the
possibilities
2. AR SYSTEM FOR TREATING PHOBIAS TO
SPIDERS AND COCKROACHES
2.1. HARDWARE
Our system uses a USB or FireWire camera and a
marker. We used Creative NX-Ultra and Logitech
QuickCam Pro 4000. The exposure sessions with
patients were performed using a Creative NX-Ultra
camera. We also displayed the output of the system
on a HMD. The patient wears the HMD, and the
therapist watches the treatment on the monitor, and
has the same view as the patient has. We used 5DT
HMD (5DT Inc., 800 H x 600 V, High 40º FOV). A
creative NX-Ultra camera was attached to the HMD.
So that, the camera focuses where the patient is
looking, see Fig. 1(a).
2.2. DESCRIPTION OF THE AR SYSTEM
The system is programmed in C and uses Visual
C++ version 6.0 as development environment.
ARToolKit 2.65 with [6] VRML support has been
used to incorporate AR options.
The virtual elements are the spiders and
cockroaches. One cockroach and spiders in three
different sizes (small, medium and large) have been
modelled. Fig. 2a, 2b and 2c show these three types
of spiders. We have tried to make the animals look
as real as possible, by paying special attention to the
structure, the movement and the texture. Both the
model and the movement of a cockroach/spider
were modelled using 3DStudio Max. These models
were exported to VRML format, and VrmlPad was
used to edit the objects and to modify some of their
characteristics. Three models for the
spider/cockroach were created: static, in movement,
and dead. The cockroach in movement moves its
feelers and its legs; the spider in movement moves
its legs. Fig. 1(b) shows a wire model of the
cockroach and Fig. 2(d) shows a dead cockroach.
Textures were created using Adobe Photoshop 7.0
and were applied to the models.
GLUI Library was used to develop the Graphic
User Interface. The Graphic User Interface can show
all the actions the user can select, or it can hide
them in order to show only the image captured by
the camera and the overlapped
spiders/cockroaches. If the menu is hidden, the user
can control the application using computer keys.
OpenAL Library was used to include sounds.
(a) (b)
Fig. 1. (a) Capture and visualization system (Creative NX-
Ultra and 5DT HMD). b) Wire model of the cockroach
The system performs the following steps:
1. It initializes the video entry, loads the files that
are related to the markers and the camera,
and performs all the required initializations.
2. For each frame of video:
1.1. It captures a frame of the video entry.
1.2. It searches for possible regions with
markers and recognizes the markers in
the captured frame.
1.3. It obtains the transformation matrix of the
camera related to the markers that are
found.
1.4. It draws the virtual objects on the markers.
3. It closes the video entry.
Steps 1 and 3 are executed only once, at the
beginning and at the end of the program. Step 2
makes up the loop of the system. While the loop is
being executed, key events are detected and
treated, modifying the values of the objects to be
drawn in step 2.4. The menu options also affect
these values. The AR instructions related to all these
steps are ARToolKit instructions, which are included
in our system. Step 2.4 draws the virtual objects
using a function of ARToolKit. The required
transformations (translation, scale and rotation) must
be executed before executing this function. There
are a total of four different markers that can be
identified in step 2.2, and the actions related to these
markers are as follows:
Animal marker: The system overlays one or
more cockroaches/spiders in different position
on the marker, depending on the selection that
the user has chosen (from one to sixty).
Insecticide killer marker (Fig. 3(a)(left)): The
system identifies when this marker is close to
the animal marker, then it kills one or several
spiders/cockroaches. The system plays a
squirting sound just like when you use a real can
of insecticide.
Flyswatter marker (Fig. 3(a)(right)): The system
identifies when this marker is close to the animal
marker, then it kills one or several
spiders/cockroaches. The system plays a
squishing sound just like when you flatten a real
spider/cockroach.
Dustpan marker (Fig. 3(b)): The system
identifies when this marker is close to the animal
marker. A single dead animal appears on the
animal marker and the dustpan can pick up the
dead animal. This helps the patient to pick up a
dead animal and throw it into the dustbin.
The system shows a different number of animals
depending on the selection of the user. Five different
menu options/keys have been assigned to make: 1
animal appear; 3 animals appear/disappear; 20
animals appear/disappear.
When the system recognizes the animal marker, it
shows the number of selected spiders/cockroaches.
If there is a single spider/cockroach, it appears in the
centre of the marker. The system increases or
reduces the number of animals in increments of 3 or
20 depending on the selected option. In the case of
several animals, they are divided into three groups
depending on the distance relative to the marker.
The first group is on or near the marker, the second
group is halfway between the animal marker and the
established maximum distance, and the third group
is at the farthest distance as possible. When animals
appear, they are distributed as follows: The first
animal belongs to the first group, the second
belongs to the second group, and the third belongs
to the third group, then, the fourth belongs to the first
group and so on until the maximum number of
allowed animals is reached (60). This distribution
assures that are always animals near the marker. To
provide randomness, each time the system runs, a
random value is assigned to the first group of
animals and is used to rotate them. Therefore, these
animals have a different orientation at each run. The
second and third groups are always orientated
towards the marker.
If the user selects one or more animals without
movement, the static model of the selected animal
appears. If the user chooses the movement of
animals, the model in movement is shown. The
movement is repetitive. If one spider/cockroach is
near the marker and its orientation is towards the
outside of the image, it starts the movement towards
the outside of the image, moves the established
distance, and goes back to its initial position (this
distance is not the same for all animals). If the
spider/cockroach is as far as possible, its movement
is towards the marker, and the animal goes back to
its initial position (the final position is not the same
for all spiders/cockroaches). If the movement is
stopped, the animal in movement is replaced by the
static animal, which remains at the location it was
stopped at. When movement is selected again, the
animals renew movement from the position they
were in.
Two more actions can be added by pressing the
associated keys/selecting menu options:
The selected animals can return to their initial
positions, i.e. their position and orientation are
the initial values.
The system can increase or reduce the size of
the selected animals, i.e. the scale factor for
each animal can be modified.
(a) (b)
(c) (d)
Fig. 2. (a), (b) and (c) The three different types of spiders
(small, medium and large). (d) A dead cockroach
All of these options allow the therapist to make the
treatment progressive. The therapist can control how
many spiders/cockroaches appear, their size,
whether they move or not, whether to kill a
spider/cockroach when the patient is prepared, and
whether to throw it into a dustbin.
Because markers are visible, the patients are able
to guess when a spider/cockroach is going to
appear. Therefore, surprise elements can be
included. In order to simulate a search for a
spider/cockroach, the therapist can incorporate
several boxes under which there may or may not be
markers. The patient must then pick up boxes
looking for animals.
a) b)
Fig. 3. (a) Elements used, from left to right, insecticide
killer; flyswatter. (b) Dustpan
3. METHOD
3.1. PARTICIPANTS
The treatment was tested on nine participants. Five
of them had a phobia to cockroaches and four of
them had a phobia to spiders. All of them asked for
help at the Jaume I University Anxiety Disorders
Clinic. They met DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders - Fourth Edition) [7]
criteria for specific phobia, situational type
(specifically, fear of cockroaches, and fear of
spiders). None of them had previously received
treatment for this problem.
Participant 1
(P1) was a 33-year-old, single
female, who worked as a hairdresser. She had
phobia of spiders. The problem began when she
was 13 years old. The problem moderately interfered
in her life; she had a house in the country, and she
avoided going anywhere she believed that spiders
could appear. She rated the severity of her problem
as 7 (on a scale from 0 to 10).
Participant 2
(P2) was a 21-year-old, single
female, who was a university student. She had
phobia of spiders. The problem began when she
was 5 years old. The problem grew worse and
worse. If she saw a spider, the patient would react
by crying, shouting and having nightmares for
several days. She defined it as “hysterical reaction”.
She rated the severity of her problem as 7 (on a
scale from 0 to 10).
Participant 3
(P3) was a 33-year-old, married
female, who worked in administration at the
university. She had phobia of spiders. Her fear
began when she was a child; her mother told her
that she had to wash her hair, otherwise, spiders
would grow in it. She had a fear of spiders as long
as she could remember. She rated the severity of
her problem as 8 (on a scale from 0 to 10).
Participant 4
(P4) was a 19-year-old, single man,
who was a university student. He had phobia of
spiders. He manifested physical sensations like
palpitation, sweating, shivers, and fear of losing
control when he saw a spider. He reported having a
fear of spiders since he was a child. He rated the
severity of his problem as 8 (on a scale from 0 to
10).
Participant 5
(P5) was a 29-year-old, single
female, who worked as doctor. She had phobia of
cockroaches. She had been afraid of them since she
was a child, and this fear had generalized to other
insects, like butterflies, wasps or beetles. She rated
the severity of her problem as 7 (on a scale from 0 to
10).
Participant 6
(P6) was a 20-year-old, single
female, who was a university student. She had
phobia of cockroaches. The fear of cockroaches
began when she was a child, for no apparent
reason. She rated the severity of her problem as 6
(on a scale from 0 to 10).
Participant 7
(P7) was a 27-year-old, single
female, who worked as a nurse in a residential home
for the elderly. She had phobia of cockroaches. The
problem began when she was a child and it got
worse with age. She rated the severity of her
problem as 10 (on a scale from 0 to 10). There are
cockroaches in the residential home for the elderly
where she works and, for this reason, she had
decided to leave her workplace.
Participant 8
(P8) was a 31-year-old, single
female, who worked in administration. She feared
cockroaches. The problem began when she was
younger because a lot of wasps attacked her. Her
fear has expanded to other insects (bees, wasps,
etc.) She rated the severity of her problem as 8 (on a
scale from 0 to 10).
Participant 9
(P9) was a 35-year-old, married
female and worked as a psychologist. She feared
cockroaches. The problem began when she was 15
years old and there was a plague of cockroaches in
the town where she was living. Her fear was
increasing. She rated the severity of her problem as
6 (on a scale from 0 to 10).
3.2. MEASURES
Diagnostic Interview. An adaptation of the Anxiety
Disorders Interview Schedule (ADIS-IV), specific
phobia section [8] was used. ADIS-IV is a semi-
structured interview that is designed to carry out a
differential diagnosis of the anxiety disorders
included in the DSM-IV [7]. This instrument gathers
clinical data such as the history of the problem, as
well as cognitive and situational factors that could
play a role in the phenomenology of the anxiety
response.
Fear and avoidance scales
. These scales were
adapted from [9]. The patient and the therapist
establish the target behaviors or situations that the
patient avoids and that he/she would like to
overcome by the end of the treatment. The patient
rates the daily level of avoidance on a 0-10 scale.
Measures regarding expectations and satisfaction
with the treatment. We included two questions
adapted from [10] about the willingness of getting
involved in a treatment program that includes: in vivo
or AR exposure. The patients rated these questions
on a 1 to 7 scale, where 1 was “I would never do it”
and 7 was “I would absolutely do it”. Following [10],
we also included several questions to measure the
satisfaction about the AR exposure treatment.
Presence and Reality Judgment
. In order to assess
the degree of presence experienced in the AR
session, three questions were asked to the
participants after interacting with the AR system. The
three questions were (on a scale from 0 to 10): “To
what degree have you felt present in the situation”,
“To what degree have you felt that you were in a
place in which spiders/cockroaches appeared”, and
“To what degree did you think the
spiders/cockroaches were real”.
Subjective units of discomfort scale (SUDS)
.
Following [11], we asked participants to rate his/her
maximum level of anxiety on a 0 to 10 scale (0=no
anxiety, 10=high anxiety).
Consent form
. Participants read and signed a
consent form accepting the treatment they were
going to receive, allowing us to videotape the
sessions, and to use their data in our research.
3.3. THE EXPOSURE SESSION USING THE AR
SYSTEM FOR TREATING PHOBIAS TO
COCKROACHES
/SPIDERS
The AR system was applied using the guidelines for
“one-session treatment” from Öst-treatment [12].
The steps followed in the AR exposure session were
as follows:
We put the capture and visualization system on
the patient. The program ran and the therapist
started by showing one spider/cockroach. When
the therapist considered it opportune, more
spiders/cockroaches progressively appeared.
During the AR session, the patients were able to
see sixty animals at the same time.
In the second step, the therapist tried to get the
patient to bring his/her hand closer to the
therapist’s hand where spiders/cockroaches
were crossing. At first, the therapist tried with
only one animal; later the therapist used two
animals, and then more spiders/cockroaches.
The patients pulled their hands away several
times when a spider/cockroach
approached/crossed their hands. Fig. 4 shows
an image of this part of the treatment for
Participant P1.
Fig. 4. Participant P1 lets spiders approach and cross over
her hand
In the third step, the therapist included a
surprise box. This element was introduced to
generate uncertainty in the patients. If the
patient saw the marker, he/she automatically
associated it with the appearance of one or
more spiders/cockroaches. However, if he/she
did not know if there was marker under a box or
inside a cupboard, he/she did not know if one or
more spiders/cockroaches were going to
appear. This is to simulate when you are
searching for a spider/cockroach in your house.
You know there is a spider/cockroach, but you
do not know exactly where it is. In the system,
there can be from one to four surprise boxes.
Under one or two of these surprise boxes there
was a marker. When the therapist or the patient
picked up the box, one or more
spiders/cockroaches appeared, depending on
the selection the therapist had made. Again, the
therapist picked up boxes with and without
markers. Later, the patient picked up boxes with
or without markers, Fig. 5.
In the fourth step, the therapist started to kill
spiders/cockroaches. At first, the therapist killed
one spider/cockroach. After repeating this action
several times, the therapist tried to get the
patient to kill animals and throw them into a box.
Fig. 6 shows how participant P2 kills a spider
using the flyswatter. Fig. 7 shows how the
participant P5 picks up the dead cockroach to
throw it into a box.
After the AR session, the therapist tried to get the
patients to approach and interact with a real
spider/cockroach. First, the therapist tried to get the
patients to approach a bowl that contained a live
spider/cockroach. After the patients touched the
bowl, the therapist let the spider/cockroach out of the
bowl and it ran on the floor. All the patients were
able to approach a real spider/cockroach, interact
with it and kill it by themselves. Fig. 8 shows how
Participant P1 kills a real spider.
Fig. 5. Participant P5 picking up a box under which there
was a marker
Fig. 6. Participant P2 killing a spider with the flyswatter
Fig. 7. Participant P5 picking up a dead cockroach
Fig. 8. Participant P1 killing a real spider
4. RESULTS
In all cases, the treatment produced an important
decrease in the participants' fear when they had to
face their target spider/cockroach.
Results from the treatment showed an important
change in the avoidance of spiders/cockroaches.
Before the treatment, none of the patients were able
to approach real spiders/cockroaches. After the
treatment, all of them were able to kill several real,
live spiders/cockroaches.
The results of the self-report measures are shown
in Table 2. During the treatment, the participants'
scores for anxiety were high, but they dropped by
the end of the treatment. Analysis of this data
indicates that, the AR system induces anxiety in
people suffering from fear of spiders/cockroaches.
Moreover, the system not only induced anxiety, but it
also diminished it through prolonged exposure to the
virtual spiders/cockroaches. Furthermore, the nine
participants were able to kill a live spider/cockroach
after the treatment. We consider this fact as a very
meaningful measure of improvement. Taking into
account this criterion, we may consider the AR
treatment for fear of spiders/cockroaches to be
successful in reducing the participants' fear and
avoidance.
To measure the sense of presence and the reality
judgment of the participants when they were
immersed in the system, we asked them three
questions, whose answers are shown in Table 3. As
can be observed, all the scores were very high,
indicating that all the participants were able to get
into the AR environment and feel really anxious, just
as if they were actually confronting real
spiders/cockroaches.
TABLE
2
D
EGREE OF ANXIETY DURING THE EXPOSURE SESSION AND
AFTER THE TREATMENT
SUBJECTS Anxiety during
the exposure
Anxiety after
the treatment
P1 9 0
P2 9 5
P3 10 3
P4 7 0
P5 9 0
P6 10 5
P7 10 2
P8 8 0
P9 8 0
TABLE 3
S
ENSE OF PRESENCE AND REALITY JUDGMENT
SUBJECTS Q1 Q2 Q3
P1 10 8 9
P2 7 5 6
P3 8 8 8
P4 10 10 9
P5 7 7 7
P6 10 10 10
P7 10 10 10
P8 8 8 8
P9 10 10 8
Q1: “To what degree have you felt present in the situation”.
Q2: “To what degree have you felt that you were in a place in
which animals appeared”.
Q3: “To what degree did you think the animals were real”.
5. CONCLUSIONS
The positive results of this first prototype suggest AR’s
potential in psychology. The study’s main shortcoming is
the small sample size. We need to apply this treatment to
larger samples in a group design that includes a control
group. Such a procedure would increase the confidence in
this new exposure format. We believe that AR applications
can also be useful as a therapeutic tool for several other
psychological disorders.
Acknowledgments
We would like to thank César Carrión and Marco
Melero for their assistance in the development of this
application.
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... Juan et al. [23] (2005) presented one of the first attempts to use AR as an alternative to in vivo exposure, using a VR HMD and a camera connected to a computer. This work, although exploratory, already supported the idea of having the therapist watch the exposure scenario on the computer monitor. ...
Conference Paper
In vivo exposure is the most common treatment for phobias, although it has several drawbacks that can be mitigated by adopting technological alternatives such as virtual reality or augmented reality. Augmented reality provides some advantages over virtual reality, including fewer modelling costs and a higher level of realism. As a result, the goal is to develop an alternate treatment to exposure in vivo using augmented reality with Hololens 2. The proposed approach allows the patient to interact with the phobic elements while simultaneously giving the psychologist complete control over them, allowing each person to have a unique and personalized experience based on their phobias. Implementation and preliminary analysis results are presented.
... Gandy et al. (2010) points out a key difference between AR and VR experiences: with AR, the participant can directly observe their own body and its movement in real time, which is not possible in VR. For this reason, AR has been used as a successful therapy to treat phantom pain (Carrino et al., 2014;Ortiz-Catalan et al., 2016;Dunn et al., 2017) and phobias (Juan et al., 2005;Botella et al., 2010;Baus and Bouchard, 2014). ...
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... As for VRbased treatments, a term has even been coined to encompass such therapies: Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET). VRETs have been proposed for flying phobia (Botella et al., 2004), fear of heights (Krijn et al., 2004), animal phobias (Carlin et al., 1997) (also in AR Juan et al., 2005)) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (Rizzo et al., 2009). ...
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Architectural design practice has radically evolved over the course of its history, due to technological improvements that gave rise to advanced automated tools for many design tasks. Traditional paper drawings and scale models are now accompanied by 2D and 3D Computer-Aided Architectural Design (CAAD) software. While such tools improved in many ways, including performance and accuracy improvements, the modalities of user interaction have mostly remained the same, with 2D interfaces displayed on 2D screens. The maturation of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology has led to some level of integration of these immersive technologies into architectural practice, but mostly limited to visualisation purposes, e.g. to show a finished project to a potential client. We posit that there is potential to employ such technologies earlier in the architectural design process and therefore explore that possibility with a focus on Algorithmic Design (AD), a CAAD paradigm that relies on (often visual) algorithms to generate geometries. The main goal of this dissertation is to demonstrate that AR and VR can be adopted for AD activities. To verify that claim, we follow an iterative prototype-based methodology to develop research prototype software tools and evaluate them. The three developed prototypes provide evidence that integrating immersive technologies into the AD toolset provides opportunities for architects to improve their workflow and to better present their creations to clients. Based on our contributions and the feedback we gathered from architectural students and other researchers that evaluated the developed prototypes, we additionally provide insights as to future perspectives in the field.
... In this context, the effect of VR-based technology was previously evaluated and provided evidence supporting the positive impact of such technology on psychological disorders (50). Other research revealed that VR-based technology could significantly reduce the psychological symptoms (stress, anxiety, and depression) of malignancies (20,(51)(52)(53). Consequently, some research suggests that VR-based technology and relaxation techniques play an essential role in improving anxiety symptoms (54). ...
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This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of virtual reality (VR)-based technology on emotional response and symptoms in patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). We systematically searched major electronic databases, including PubMed/Medline, Scopus, Embase, ISI Web of Science, PsycINFO, and Cochrane central, up to April 14, 2021, with no data or language limits. We performed reference, related articles, and citation searches to find additional articles. We included original articles comparing and studying VR-based technology in patients with OCD against the control group. We observed that VR significantly increases in anxiety (SMD = 2.92; 95% CI 1.89–3.94, p < 0.0001; I ² = 95%), disgust (SMD = 2.52; 95% CI 1.36–3.68, p < 0.0001; I ² = 95%), urge to wash (SMD = 3.12; 95% CI 1.92–4.32, p < 0.0001; I ² = 94%), checking time (SMD = 1.06; 95% CI 0.71–1.4, p < 0.0001; I ² = 44%), number of checking behavior (SMD = 1.45; 95% CI 0.06–2.83, p = 0.04; I ² = 93%), and uncertainty (SMD = 2.59; 95% CI 0.90–4.27, p = 0.003; I ² = 70%) in OCD patients compared with healthy controls using a random-effect model. This meta-analysis found that this environment has a moderate enhancement in emotional response and symptoms test scores of patients with OCD. However, our findings should be generalized with caution due to the lack of standardized methods and high heterogeneity among included evidence. The appropriate mode of integrating VR-based technology for patients with OCD requires more exploration.
... H1 NUI design was expected to deliver more presence for users than GUI design in AR narrative. Since NUI can enable the audience to interact in a more natural and intuitive way, and the intuitive interaction is critical to the feeling of presence both in AR and VR environments [7,31] ,. ...
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Over the years, the various mediums available for storytelling have progressively expanded, from spoken to written word, then to film, and now to Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). In 2016, the cutting-edge Head-Mounted Display (HMD) AR Microsoft HoloLens was released. However, though it has been several years, the quality of the user experience with narration using HMD-based AR technology has been rarely discussed. The present study explored interactive narrative in HMD-based AR regarding different user interfaces and their influence on users' presence, narrative engagement and reflection. Inspired by an existing exhibition at the National Holocaust Centre and Museum in the U.K., a HoloLens narrative application, entitled The AR Journey, was developed by the authors using two different interaction methods, Natural User Interface (NUI) and Graphical User Interface (GUI), which were used to perform an empirical study. As revealed from the results of the between-subject design experiment, NUI exhibited statistically significant advantages in creating presence for users without 3D Role Playing Game (RPG) experience, and GUI was superior in creating presence and increasing narrative engagement for users with 3D RPG experience. As indicated by the results of the interviews, the overall narrative experience in HMD-based AR was acceptable, and the branching narrative design was engaging. However, HoloLens hardware issues, as well as virtuality and reality mismatch, adversely affected user experience. Design guidelines were proposed according to the qualitative results. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11042-021-11723-0.
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The use of augmented reality (AR) environments to treat small animal phobias is an alternative to traditional in vivo exposure treatments that allow supporting the therapy through the virtual, gradual and controlled exposure of the patient to the animal to which he/she is afraid. In this paper, we compare three different AR tools used in exposure therapy for spider phobia with thirty users; namely, a mobile haptic AR system, an immersive AR environment, and a non-immersive AR environment. An in vivo (direct) interaction with a real spider was also used as a reference during the comparison. To compare these four conditions, each subject participated in an exposure therapy session using all of them. The perception of usefulness and experience of use of each of the tools were evaluated using a Technology Acceptance Model on-exit questionnaire and the results were obtained through indirect observation analysis. The results showed that there are no significant differences regarding the perception of usefulness among the three applications and that the haptic AR system generated the least discomforting experience of use.
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Background Fear of spiders, or Arachnophobia, is one of the most common specific phobias. The gold standard treatment, in vivo exposure therapy, is effective, but comes with significant limitations, including restricted availability, high costs, and high refusal rates. Novel technologies, such as augmented reality, may help to overcome these limitations and make Exposure Therapy more accessible by using mobile devices. Objective This study will use a Randomized Controlled Trial design to investigate whether ZeroPhobia: Arachnophobia, a 6-week Augmented Reality Exposure Therapy smartphone self-help application, can effectively reduce spider phobia symptoms. Additionally, we will examine user-friendliness of the application and the effect of usage intensity and presence on treatment outcome. Methods This study is registered in the Netherlands Trial Registry under NL70238.029.19 (Trial NL9221). Ethical approval was received on October 11, 2019. One-hundred-twelve participants (age 18–64, score ≥ 59) on the Fear of Spiders Questionnaire [FSQ] will be recruited from the general Dutch population and randomly assigned to a treatment or waitlist control group. The ZeroPhobia application can be accessed on users’ smartphone. Baseline, post-test (i.e., at six weeks), 3- and 12-month follow-up assessments will be done, each including the Fear of Spiders Questionnaire as the main outcome measure as well as additional measures of anxiety, depression, user-friendliness, and presence as secondary measures and covariates. Results The study was funded on September 25, 2018. Data collection started in September 2021 and the study is expected to run until September 2022. Conclusions Our study will improve our understanding of the efficacy and feasibility of providing Exposure Therapy for spider phobia using an Augmented Reality self-help application, with the intention of making mental health care more accessible.
Chapter
The extended mind thesis maintains that the functional contributions of tools and artifacts can become so essential for our cognition that they can be constitutive parts of our minds. In other words, our tools can be on a par with our brains: our minds and cognitive processes can literally “extend” into the tools. Several extended mind theorists have argued that this “extended” view of the mind offers unique insights into how we understand, assess, and treat certain cognitive conditions. In this chapter, we suggest that using AI extenders, i.e., tightly coupled cognitive extenders that are imbued with machine learning and other “artificially intelligent” tools, presents both new ethical challenges and opportunities for mental health. We focus on several mental health conditions that can develop differently by the use of AI extenders for people with cognitive disorders and then discuss some of the related opportunities and challenges.KeywordsCognitive extensionExtended mindEnhancementAI ethicsMental healthCognitive disorderCognitive capabilityAlzheimer’s diseaseMemoryFunction
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Most current VR application domains are expensive, large-scale applications that are sold to, and used by, a few rich customers. Currently, there is no such thing as a VR mass market. Successful commercial VR is based on selling expensive pieces of hardware and software to a small number of clients who have the financial, spatial, and human resources to purchase, house, and maintain them. The one exception has been the use of virtual environments in the treatment of psychological disorders. The typical customer for these systems is not a large government agency or international company, but usually a clinician in a hospital or an independent clinic. As a result, VR therapy systems have had to be inexpensive, easy to use and maintain, and usually must fit into existing space in a clinician's office.
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One of the challenges today in the research of psychological treatments based on evidence is their dissemination. Efficacious and effective psychological treatments should be available and accessible for both practitioners and consumers. However, only a small percentage of potential patients actively seek help for psychological problems that could be ameliorated by therapy. Internet-based self-help interventions may help to solve this problem by reducing the amount of actual contact between therapist and patient and by overcoming the geographical barriers that separate them. The aim of this work is to present a completely self-applied telepsychology program (Without Fear) to treat small animal phobia (spiders, cockroaches, and mice), which uses virtual reality scenarios for the exposure tasks. Preliminary data about the efficacy and effectiveness of this program in a series of 12 cases is offered. Participants showed an improvement in all clinical measures at posttreatment, and the therapeutic gains were maintained at a 3-month followup.
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Thirty-four patients with spider phobia, fulfilling the DSM-IIIR criteria for simple phobia, were assessed with behavioral, physiological, and self-report measures. They were randomly assigned to therapist-directed exposure during one session (maximum 3 hours) or self-directed exposure via a specifically written manual (during a 2-week period). Results showed that therapist-directed exposure was significantly better than self-directed exposure, both at post-treatment and at a 1 year follow-up, on the specific spider phobia self-report measures, the behavioral measures, and clinician rating of phobic severity, while there were no differences on the physiological measures. Stringent criteria for clinically significant improvement were met by 71% of the therapistand 6% in the self-directed exposure group both at post-treatment and at follow-up. Some of the reasons for the poorer results of self-exposure in this study are discussed.
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Four hundred and fifty college students rated the credibility of the rationales and procedural descriptions of two therapy, three placebo, and one component-control procedure frequently used in analogue outcome research. The rating scale was designed to assess both the credibility and the expectancy for improvement generated by the rationales. The results indicated that the control conditions were, in general, less credible than the therapy conditions. Implications for outcome research are briefly discussed.