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Do Virtual Reality Songs Confer Mental Health Benefits?

Researchers created a virtual reality choir to see if virtual reality choirs offer the same health and well-being benefits as choirs in physical groups.

The team will test a virtual reality singing experience in a nursing home.

When in-person collective singing activities were suspended during Covid-19, people tried various methods to keep choral activities alive. “Zoom Choir” etc.. Researcher at York University investigated After the initial lockdown, over 3000 members of the UK choir surveyed to understand what was missing from the normal choir experience.

They found that virtual choirs provide a lifeline to many people by maintaining social connections, but due to the technical limitations of the Internet, the collective process of creating music in real time has been disrupted. I discovered that there was a unanimous sense of loss.

To fill this gap, the university’s AudioLab team developed a virtual reality environment that allows participants to be fully immersed in the sounds of the choir.

physiological response

Professor Helena Daffern of the AudioLab at the University of York said: It can improve people’s sense of well-being, especially because it brings people together socially and fosters a sense of community.

“We wanted to recreate singing-along in a virtual environment for those who have barriers to accessing this type of activity in ‘real life’. The pandemic was one such barrier, but post-Covid, it is clear that this thinking can also be applied to people who struggle to access this type of leisure activity due to health or age-related issues. understood.

“This could, for example, help improve the health and well-being of individuals who may be homebound or suffering from social anxiety, participate in a virtual reality choir, and positively enhance their sense of well-being when they need it most.” It could mean that you can.”

nursing home

The team tried out the technology in several ways. nursing home It was well received by both residents and staff. The virtual reality experience was also used at the National Trust exhibition, allowing visitors to the museum to sing in a virtual choir in the hills of the Lake District.

Virtual reality headset users who may or may not have been able to join a choir or climb steep lake slopes also reported higher levels of enjoyment.

Professor Daffern says: It is clear that the experience can certainly provide great enjoyment. “

science exhibition

The Virtual Reality Choir experience is currently featured in the world’s first immersive exhibition at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry. Turn it Up: The Power of Musicexploring the impact of music on individuals and society

To learn more about Dr. Daffern’s research on virtual reality singing, listen to the university podcast. story of thingsNow the research team discusses choir techniques and experiences.

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