Presence may be operationally defined based on the similarity of perceptual activity and overall body engagement and response to virtual or real stimuli.

Responses are multi-dimensional and will include those obtained from brain imaging, physiological measures, eye tracking, behaviour and subjective reporting. The aims of this project are as follows:

(1) To construct a theory of presence based on empirical observations from neuroscience and other experimentation that will be carried out during the course of the project.

(2) To extend ‘presence’ beyond just similarity of response between virtual and real stimuli, in order to use the capability of virtual reality for sensory enhancement - doing and perceiving things in a ‘magical’ way, that can only be accomplished in virtual reality. For example, carrying out actions by 'thought'.

(3) To extend the understanding of presence to co-presence - the sense of being with other people in a shared virtual environment, including the situation where those 'other people' are entirely computer generated.


(a) A neural and physiological characterisation of presence: To execute psychophysiological and brain imaging studies that provide a characterisation of the physiological and neuronal signatures associated with switches between different presence states. The key goal is to implement fMRI experients, using event-related designs, where the presence state (or switches in state of presence) is indexed by (i) phenomenological report from subjects (ii) a change in bodily state indexed by indepenent psychophysiogical markers.

(b) Neurophysiological and behavioural studies: To execute electrophysiological and behavioural experiments, with the goal of understanding the pattern of electrical brain activity when there is a choice of behaviour under conditions of changing environmental cues. How does behaviour change, and what pattern of neuron firings are associated with these changes?

(c) Neurophysiological based interaction methods: To develop a Human-Computer-interface based on a real-time neuro-physiological device to be constructed in the project that participants can consciously control and utilize to navigate through a virtual environment. The same device will be used to portray the neuro-physiological state of a people communicating in a shared VE.

(d) Measurement techniques for presence: To construct robust measures of presence that can assess presence in relation to many different display and interaction media. The measurements techniques will follow from the theory to be developed during the project.

(e) A theory of presence: To develop a theory of presence that characterises presence and attempts to explain how and why the presence state changes in response to changes in display and interaction parameters, and across different media, and including the role of perceptual and cognitive factors, including attention. This theory will be elaborated in response to real data accumulated in pursuance of the other and tested against the execution of experiments in different media.

Back to top


Home     Aims     Partners      Publications      Results      Events      Links      Contact           Private

Design and build | Navig8 | London