Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia have written software designed to allow psychiatrists to gain an understanding of the reality of patient hallucinations. "The idea is to get [medical students] to understand what it is like from the patient's point of view," said Geoffery Ericksson, the research fellow at the University of Queensland.
The prototype software runs on a university virtual reality system that includes three projectors and a 9-meters-wide by and 2.5-meters-high screen curved to provide a 150-degree field of view.
The environment is a model of a psychiatric ward. The user is able to navigate around the environment using a mouse and keyboard, and can trigger hallucinations via hotkeys or clicking. Hallucinations also automatically occur when the user gets near certain objects.
Visual hallucinations include an abyss appearing where the floor should be, random flashes of light, the user's image in a mirror getting thinner and bleeding from the eyes, and an initially comforting but increasingly abusive Virgin Mary. Abusive voices that say things like "you're worthless" and "go and kill yourself" start at random and [in] proximity to items such as stereos and televisions. These occur simultaneously, giving the effect of many different sounds and voices interjecting and occurring simultaneously, according to Jorgensen.
The researchers' next step is to increase their library of hallucinations by interviewing more patients.
VR tool re-creates hallucinations
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