Brain and virtual reality: What do they have in common and how to exploit their potential

Giuseppe Riva, Brenda K. Wiederhold, Alice Chirico, Daniele Di Lernia, Fabrizia Mantovani, Andrea Gaggioli

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista

5 Citazioni (Scopus)


Different studies suggest that Virtual Reality (VR) is an effective tool for behavioural health, with long-term effects that generalize to the real world. Here we suggest that the efficacy of VR can be explained by how it works. Specifically, VR shares with our brain the same basic mechanism: embodied simulations. Different major discoveries in the field of neuroscience suggest that our brain produces and updates an embodied simulation of the body in the world. This simulation is actively used by different cognitive processes to represent and predict actions, concepts, and emotions. VR works in a similar way: through the integration of data from trackers and contents of a simulated 3D world, a VR system builds a model (simulation) of the body and the space around it. Like the brain, the VR system uses the simulation to predict the sensory consequences of the individual’s movements. In this view, the more the VR model is similar to the brain model, the more the individual feels present in the VR world. The paper discusses the potential of this link, by suggesting the emergence of a new clinical approach that uses the simulative potential of VR to exploit/empower (transformation of flow) and/or correct/update (embodied medicine) the predictive/simulative mechanisms of the brain.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)3-8
Numero di pagine6
RivistaAnnual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2018


  • Behavioural health
  • Embodied medicine
  • Embodied simulation
  • Neuroscience
  • Predictive coding
  • Virtual reality


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