University of Jaen uses virtual reality techniques for hallucinations treatments

Jaen 22 May 2006Scientists of the University of Jaen are working in a project, pioneer in the world, to improve the treatment of hallucinations, by means of acting in the attention processes using virtual reality techniques. It is a project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology, carried out by the "Evaluación Psicológica" group, focused on the development of psychological methods that complement pharmacological treatments in order to try to control psychotic symptoms.

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Project leader Beatriz López Luengo emphasised that the aim is "not to recreate the hallucinations of patients, but to train their attention in order to reduce them or stop them from appearing".

In order to carry out the training of attention, the Jaen-based group uses different modules included in a computing software. In the first module, by watching an assembly line in which different objects appear, patients must detect all those that are not identical to a predetermined object. In the next module, there are different figures and patients must identify an identical figure to a specific one. Finally, a train cab appears and is displayed on a monitor. The task consists of simultaneously responding to the elements of the cab according to certain signs.

Once that patients have carried out these tasks without difficulty, they must do them with hearing stimulation - the sound of a watch, music, a conversation, and words addressed to the patient.

The person leading this project underlined the innovation side of it, because there is not another intervention that tackles attention from this viewpoint. Likewise, if this proves to be an effective method, it will be an economical treatment that can be used in assistance units in the future as a complement of pharmacological treatments.


Leslie Versweyveld

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