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Using virtual reality to teach special populations how to cope in crisis: the case of a virtual earthquake.

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  • 1Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 1st Emm. Papa, 55236 Thessaloniki, Greece.


The unique characteristics of special populations such as pre-school children and Down syndrome kids in crisis and their distorted self-image were never studied before, because of the difficulty of crisis reproduction. This study proposes a VR setting that tries to model some special population's behaviour in the time of crises and offers them a training scenario. The sample population consisted of 30 pre-school children and 20 children with Down syndrome. The VR setting involved a high-speed PC, a VPL EyePhone 1, a MR toolkit, a vibrations plate, a motion capture system and other sensors. The system measured and modelled the typical behaviour of these special populations in a Virtual Earthquake scenario with sight and sound and calculated a VR anthropomorphic model that reproduced their behaviour and emotional state. Afterwards one group received an emotionally enhanced VR self-image as feedback for their training, one group received a plain VR self-image and another group received verbal instructions. The findings strongly suggest that the training was a lot more biased by the emotionally enhanced VR self-image than the other approaches. These findings could highlight the special role of the self-image to therapy and training and the interesting role of imagination to emotions, motives and learning. Further studies could be done with various scenarios in order to measure the best-biased behaviour and establish the most natural and affective VR model. This presentation is going to highlight the main findings and some theories behind them.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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