VR paper accepted in INTERACT conference

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Some more good news to share regarding publications. In collaboration with Dr Lex Mauger from Kent Sport and Exercise Sciences, we have been working on how virtual reality (VR) can be used to reduce the pain people feel when exercising. More information about the project can be found here.

Title: How Real is Unreal? Virtual Reality and the Impact of Visual Imagery on the Experience of Exercise-Induced Pain

Abstract. As a consequence of prolonged muscle contraction, acute pain arises during exercise as a result of a build-up of noxious biochemical in and around the muscle. Specific visual cues, e.g., the size of the object in weight lifting exercises, may reduce acute pain experienced during exercise. In this study, we examined how Virtual Reality(VR) can facilitate this “material-weight illusion”, influencing perception of task difficulty, thus reducing perceived pain. We found that when vision understated the real weight, the time to exhaustion was 2 minutes longer. Furthermore, participants’ heart rate was significantly lower by 5-7 bpm in the understated session. We concluded that visual-proprioceptive information modulated the individual’s willingness to continue to exercise for longer, primarily by reducing the intensity of negative perceptions of pain and effort associated with exercise. This result could inform the design of VR aimed at increasing the level of physical activity and thus a healthier lifestyle.

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