Author(s): Ku J, Mraz R, Baker N, Zakzanis KK, Lee JH,
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Abstract Virtual reality (VR) technology is increasingly recognized as a useful tool for the assessment and rehabilitation of neurologic and psychiatric disorders. The hope that VR can accurately mimic real-life events is also of great interest in basic neuroscience, to identify the brain activity that underlies complex behavior by combining VR with techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Toward these applications, in this study we designed and validated an fMRI-compatible data glove with a built-in vibratory stimulus device for tactile feedback during VR experiments. A simple VR-fMRI experiment was performed at 3.0 Tesla on four young healthy adults involving touching a virtual object with and without tactile feedback. The usefulness of the data glove was subsequently assessed using a series of questionnaires, behavioral performance, and the resulting activation images. Questionnaire scores indicated positive opinions with respect to the data glove, the tactile feedback, and the experimental paradigm. All subjects felt comfortable in the scanner during the VR experiment and were able to perform all aspects of the tasks successfully and with reasonable accuracy. In addition, activation maps showed the anticipated modulations in motor, somatosensory, and parietal cortex. These results support that tactile feedback enhances the realism of virtual hand-object interactions, and that the tactile data glove is suitable for use in other VR-fMRI research applications (e.g., VR physical therapy for stroke recovery).
This article was published in Cyberpsychol Behav
and referenced in International Journal of Neurorehabilitation