APR 18, 2020 10:45 PM PDT

Virtual Reality Can Make Us More Empathetic

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Virtual reality (VR) makes us more empathetic—or so says new study published in eNeuro.

Learn more about your brain on virtual reality:

The findings suggest that VR activates neural networks of the brain that increase our ability to ‘relate’ to other people. As a result, VR can potentially become a therapeutic tool for violent offenders to empathize with others.

Being able to understand what someone may be going through and the circumstances that shaped who they are free of judgment is the essence of empathy. Practicing empathy leads to successful relationships.

Virtual reality may make it possible for someone to become more empathetic if they lack the quality—as VR will ‘con’ the brain into thinking is its own body or that the ‘virtual’ events are actually happening. The coaxing occurs as a result of the multi-sensory feedback experience.

For researchers to observe the role of VR in such behavior, they employed functional magnetic resonances imaging that monitored brain activity in study participants. In one VR animation, a man verbally abuses a woman from the perspective of the woman. Before participants were to experience this animation, they underwent training to experience the first-person embodiment. The brain activity showed strong synchronization in regions of the brain involving perception.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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