What do you get when you mix gaming, virtual reality and brains? Exploring the potential of latest developments in neurotechnology and cognitive science
Ines Violante, Postdoctoral Fellow at Imperial College London and University College London, Romy Lorenz, cognitive neuroscientist at Imperial College London, and Tre Azam, Founder of virtual reality gaming company Myndplay, involved the Future Forum students in a fascinating exploration of the latest developments in neuroscience and application of gaming technology to help train the brain to focus and relieve anxiety.
Ines and Romy first explained how the brain works and how neurotechnology can help to treat the ‘diseased’ or injured brain. They started by tricking students’ senses with optical illusions to show that we don’t always see what we think we see- because of the way our brain perceives and interprets the world. They then demonstrated some of the technologies used in their lab to understand the structure and function of the human brain, including electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The highlight of their session was conducting a real-time demonstration of a brain stimulation experiment, 'zap the teacher'- on Dr Clark! Brain stimulation is a non-invasive technique that applies a weak electrical current through the scalp, and is used to help restore communication between brain areas that is faulty due to disease or has been damaged by an accident.
Next up was Tre, who gave students the chance to use the latest VR ready MyndBand EEG Brainwave headset and the MyndPlayer interactive mind controlled video platform to control, influence, and interact with video games, apps and movies using only their mind and emotions. Grounded in brain research the MyndPlay platform was created to help users to train their brains to improve attention, meditation skills, and also overcome mental obstacles through entertainment, simulations and guided training applications. Student volunteers played golf and tug of war in the session while being able to see their very own brainwave reports on screen visualising their ability to focus and concentrate to improve their scores- akin to how athletes train to get into 'the zone" of complete focus and relaxation to achieve top results.