Join the VR Working Group at the GI as they host guest speaker Lindsay Fraser, Ph.D. candidate in Behavioural Psychology at the Center for Vision Research, York University, Toronto.
My Avatar, My Self: What virtual bodies can tell us about ownership, agency and perception
Twenty-one years ago, Matthew Botvinick and Jonathan Cohen introduced the Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI), where participants perceive a fake rubber hand as their own. More recently, the increased availability of virtual reality (VR) systems has led the creation of whole-body versions of the RHI, where participants feel a sense of ownership over virtual avatar bodies. This research has produced interesting new insights into the flexibility of our sense of embodiment, particularly in adopting virtual bodies that look and act very different than our own. In this talk I will discuss some of the highlights of the last two decades of RHIs and whole-body ownership illusions. I will outline some of the open questions in the field, questions like: How do realism and narrative affect our willingness to adopt different bodies? What is the distinction between self-attribution of body parts vs. tools? What are the cognitive and perceptual effects of embodying different kinds of bodies? I will draw from scientific evidence and theories of immersion and presence to show how VR is uniquely poised to answer these questions. It is clear that psychologists, game designers and VR content creators have a great deal they can learn from each other about experiences in virtual spaces. Now more than ever there is a need for an interdisciplinary approach to what embodiment in VR tells us about how we construct our self-percept, and what that might mean for the future of VR.
Lindsey E. Fraser is a PhD candidate in Behavioural Psychology at the Center for Vision Research at York University in Toronto. Her research has focused on multisensory contributions to perception of the body and the world, including projects on perception of upright in healthy adults and in stroke; top-down influences on body localization; and sensory gating in motor control. Lindsey is a recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship, and a CREATE VISTA Travel Award. She has presented her work in Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, China, Israel and the United States.
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