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Presence and general principles of brain function
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Computing Science.
2012 (English)In: Interacting with computers, ISSN 0953-5438, E-ISSN 1873-7951, Vol. 24, no 4 SI, 193-202 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent developments in general theories of cognition and brain function make it possible to consider the concept of presence from a new perspective, based in general principles of brain function. The importance of interaction with reality for the development and function of the brain and human cognition is increasingly emphasized. The brain is explained as implementing a generative model of the current environment. Whether this environment is real or virtual does not matter. Mental simulations are created for whatever one interacts with, when possible. This view provides a basis for relating human experiences in virtual environments to several theories that explain cognition and brain function on many levels, from ultimate evolutionary motivations to plausible neural implementations. The purpose of this paper is not to provide yet another definition of presence but to suggest explanations of phenomena commonly related to presence, with a basis in general principles of brain function. Such principles are employed to explain how, and why, interaction with our environment, and internalization of objects and tools therein, play an essential role in human cognition. This provides a rich basis for further analysis of how central aspects of presence, such as breaks in presence or the perceptual illusion of non-mediation, may work on a fundamental level. More general descriptions of such phenomena have advantages such as being easier to relate to new contexts and technologies, and opening up for additional inspiration and confirmation from other disciplines such as cognitive neuroscience. In addition to an account of general principles for brain function and a discussion about the concept of presence in light of these, this paper also relates this discussion to a number of previous accounts of presence, and to practical implications and applications for interaction design.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 24, no 4 SI, 193-202 p.
Keyword [en]
Presence, Brain function, Virtual reality, Cognitive neuroscience
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-56580DOI: 10.1016/j.intcom.2012.04.004ISI: 000309847600004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-56580DiVA: diva2:535942
Available from: 2012-06-20 Created: 2012-06-20 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Human brains and virtual realities: Computer-generated presence in theory and practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Human brains and virtual realities: Computer-generated presence in theory and practice
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Mänskliga hjärnor och virtuella verkligheter : Datorgenererad närvaro i teori och praktik
Abstract [en]

A combined view of the human brain and computer-generated virtual realities is motivated by recent developments in cognitive neuroscience and human-computer interaction (HCI). The emergence of new theories of human brain function, together with an increasing use of realistic human-computer interaction, give reason to believe that a better understanding of the relationship between human brains and virtual realities is both possible and valuable. The concept of “presence”, described as the subjective feeling of being in a place that feels real, can serve as a cornerstone concept in the development of such an understanding, as computer-generated presence is tightly related to how human brains work in virtual realities.

In this thesis, presence is related both to theoretical discussions rooted in theories of human brain function, and to measurements of brain activity during realistic interaction. The practical implications of such results are further developed by considering potential applications. This includes the development and evaluation of a prototype application, motivated by presented principles.

The theoretical conception of presence in this thesis relies on general principles of brain function, and describes presence as a general cognitive function, not specifically related to virtual realities. Virtual reality (VR) is an excellent technology for investigating and taking advantage of all aspects of presence, but a more general interpretation allows the same principles to be applied to a wide range of applications.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to study the working human brain in VR. Such data can inform and constrain further discussion about presence. Using two different experimental designs we have investigated both the effect of basic aspects of VR interaction, as well as the neural correlates of disrupted presence in a naturalistic environment.

Reality-based brain-computer interaction (RBBCI) is suggested as a concept for summarizing the motivations for, and the context of, applications building on an understanding of human brains in virtual realities. The RBBCI prototype application we developed did not achieve the set goals, but much remains to be investigated and lessons from our evaluation point to possible ways forward. A developed use of methods and techniques from computer gaming is of particular interest.

Abstract [sv]

Ett kombinerat perspektiv på den mänskliga hjärnan och datorgenererade virtuella verkligheter motiveras av den senaste utvecklingen inom kognitiv neurovetenskap och människa-datorinteraktion (MDI). Framväxten av nya teorier om den mänskliga hjärnan, tillsammans med en ökande användning av realistisk människa-datorinteraktion, gör det troligt att en bättre förståelse för relationen mellan mänskliga hjärnor och virtuella verkligheter är både möjlig och värdefull. Begreppet "närvaro", som i detta sammanhang beskrivs som den subjektiva känslan av att vara på en plats som känns verklig, kan fungera som en hörnsten i utvecklingen av en sådan förståelse, då datorgenererad närvaro är tätt kopplat till hur mänskliga hjärnor fungerar i virtuella verkligheter.

I denna avhandling kopplas närvaro både till teoretiska diskussioner grundade i teorier om den mänskliga hjärnan, och till mätningar av hjärnans aktivitet under realistisk interaktion. De praktiska konsekvenserna av sådana resultat utvecklas vidare med en närmare titt på potentiella tillämpningar. Detta inkluderar utveckling och utvärdering av en prototypapplikation, motiverad av de presenterade principerna.

Den teoretiska diskussionen av närvaro i denna avhandling bygger på allmänna principer för hjärnans funktion, och beskriver känslan av närvaro som en generell kognitiv funktion, inte specifikt relaterad till virtuella verkligheter. Virtuell verklighet (virtual reality, VR) är en utmärkt teknik för att undersöka och dra nytta av alla aspekter av närvaro, men en mer allmän tolkning gör att samma principer kan tillämpas på ett brett spektrum av applikationer.

Funktionell hjärnavbildning (fMRI) användes för att studera den arbetande mänskliga hjärnan i VR. Sådant data kan informera och begränsa en vidare diskussion av närvaro. Med hjälp av två olika försöksdesigner har vi har undersökt både effekten av grundläggande aspekter av VR-interaktion, och neurala korrelat av störd närvaro i en naturalistisk miljö.

Verklighets-baserad hjärna-dator interaktion (reality-based brain-computer interaction, RBBCI) föreslås som ett begrepp för att sammanfatta motiv och kontext för applikationer som bygger på en förståelse av den mänskliga hjärnan i virtuella verkligheter. Den prototypapplikation vi utvecklade uppnådde inte de uppsatta målen, men mycket återstår att utforska och lärdomar från vår utvärdering pekar på möjliga vägar framåt. En vidare användning av metoder och tekniker från dataspel är speciellt intressant.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2013. 43 p.
Series
Report / UMINF, ISSN 0348-0542 ; 13.06
Keyword
Human brain function, virtual reality, presence, cognitive neuroscience, human-computer interaction, brain imaging, fMRI, BCI, neural correlates, HCI theory, reality-based interaction.
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-68664 (URN)978-91-7459-617-5 (ISBN)978-91-7459-618-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-05-17, Naturvetarhuset, N360, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-04-23 Created: 2013-04-22 Last updated: 2013-04-23Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0953543812000380

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Sjölie, Daniel

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