Immersive virtual reality tackles depression stigma says study

Immersive virtual reality tackles depression stigma says study
A new study from the University of Tokyo has highlighted the positive effect that immersive virtual reality experiences have for depression anti-stigma and knowledge interventions compared to traditional video.

The study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of anti-stigma IVR intervention compared to traditional video in enhancing depression knowledge and reducing stigma.

The researchers also examined the corresponding depression knowledge brain activity change using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Research participants engaged in an anti-stigma intervention using both immersive VR and conventional video, focused on the daily life and recovery of a patient with mild depression. Change in both depression knowledge, stigma-related behavioural and brain activity were monitored pre and post-intervention.

The study found that depression knowledge improved for both interventions, however, only the immersive VR intervention reduced stigma. The VR-powered intervention saw depression knowledge score positively associated with a neural response in the brain that is indicative of empathetic concern. The traditional video intervention saw the inverse, with participants demonstrating a brain-response which suggests a distress-related response.

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