What Happens to Your Brain in Virtual Reality?

Two people with VR headsets on.

A man and a woman wear virtual reality headsets while gaming.

In late 2017, when Professor Robert Duncan (GC/York; Psychology, Biology/Behavioral Sciences) first began trying to design a virtual reality video game, he realized that no one really understood on a deep level how virtual reality worked.

He knew that game companies had a decent understanding of perception, and of the basic physiological mechanisms behind it. But what about presence? That’s a term that gets used a lot in virtual reality, and is generally defined as the feeling of being located in a particular world.

Yet the concept of presence is much more complicated and difficult to describe, Duncan realized. Duncan is a visual neuroscientist who spent much of his career developing new functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques. He decided to take a closer look at the neural mechanisms that are responsible for what psychologists call bodily self-consciousness.

Continue Reading What Happens to Your Brain in Virtual Reality? on The Graduate Center’s News page.