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.
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