Main menu


A virtual reality experience that aids recovery from substance use disorders -- ScienceDaily

featured image

Researchers at Indiana University are combining psychology principles with innovative virtual reality technology to create new immersive therapies for people with substance use disorders. Received over $10,000 and launched an IU-related startup to test and further develop this technology.

IU researchers, led by Brandon Oberlin, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine, have built a virtual environment using “future self avatars” to help people recover from substance use disorders. These avatars are life-sized, fully animated, and almost photorealistic. The avatar speaks in the same voice using personal information in an alternate future.

“While VR technology is clinically effective and increasingly common in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and post-surgical pain, substance use disorders “By leveraging VR’s ability to provide immersive experiences that present scenarios that would otherwise be impossible, we can help people understand substance use,” he said. and created a way to interact with different versions of my future self in the context of recovery.”

After four years of development and testing in collaboration with an Indianapolis-based treatment center, Oberlin and his colleagues’ pilot study was published Sept. 15. discover mental healthTheir findings suggest that virtual reality simulations of an imaginary reality can aid recovery from substance use disorders by lowering the risk of relapse rates and increasing participants’ future self-connectivity. I’m here.

“This experience allows people in recovery to have a personalized virtual experience in an alternate future that is attributed to the choices they have made,” said Oberlin. “We believe this is an innovative intervention for early recovery from substance use disorders, and will likely have wider applications in mental health.”

This technology is especially suitable for people in early recovery, a critical time when the risk of recurrence is high. Because immersive experiences help us choose long-term rewards over immediate gratification by deepening our connection with our future selves. He said.

Over the past five months, Oberlin’s team has received over $4.9 million in prizes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). NIAAA is a federal scientific research agency under the National Institutes of Health (NIH). , to advance their work, including a $319,542 Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I Research Grant.

The grant will support clinical trials designed to test the efficacy of relapse prevention, brain activation, and other key factors associated with treating substance use disorders, Oberlin said. For example, one study provides a virtual reality experience remotely via wireless headsets for participants to use at home. This is because remote delivery of mental health interventions addresses the urgent needs of people who are unable or unwilling to participate in in-person clinical settings.

“The ultimate goal of our work is to leverage cutting-edge VR technology to provide therapeutic experiences that support early recovery during a very dangerous time when the risk of recurrence is high,” said Oberlin. said. “Last year saw the annual record of drug overdose deaths in the United States surpass 100,000 again, with the estimated death toll surpassing 100,000. New innovations in treatment and recovery are desperately needed. We hope IU’s innovative research efforts will meet this demand.”

Oberlin applied for international patent protection for its technology earlier this year, with the support of the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office.

He also co-founded a new IU-related startup called Relate XR, LLC with Andrew Nelson, an IU alumnus and CEO of Indianapolis-based virtual reality startup Half Full Nelson. and developed its commercial potential.

“Brandon’s technology is a unique approach to the treatment of mental health conditions like substance use disorders, which have long been challenges to individual well-being and social health,” said IU Innovation and Commercialization Vice President. President Simran Torana said. office. “We look forward to working with his team to develop and deploy this technology through Relate XR. It is necessary to solicit

Additional authors of the pilot study include Nelson and Yitong Iris Shen, an IUPUI graduate student in Oberlin’s lab. The initial project was funded by the Department of Psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine and the Indiana Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences.