Eliminate nausea due to the use of virtual reality by modulating brain activity with small electrical stimulations on the skull. To succeed in an innovative way was the research group coordinated by neurologist Simone Rossi, of the University of Siena, with the participation of the Sapienza University of Rome and the Harvard School of Medicine. The result, published in the journal Neurotherapeutics, could help those who use virtual reality in a prolonged manner, such as surgeons who operate remotely, or astronauts who are in microgravity.
"When information arrives from our sensory receptors, such as vision or the vestibular system, that is in disagreement with each other, we have a so-called sensory mismatch, which is the cause of nausea that we feel like motion sickness or seasickness," Rossi told ANSA. "The same - he added - happens in many subjects who use virtual reality or astronauts in space". Starting from a previous study on a subject with disorders of the vestibular system, a structure that is located near the ear fundamental for managing balance, the researchers tested in about forty healthy subjects the possible therapeutic effects of weak electrical stimulation produced by electrodes resting on the head. The subjects were made to wear a virtual reality headset, ride on a roller coaster, and analyzed the effects of various types of stimulation. "Stimulations at lower frequencies were able to increase the sense of nausea while higher frequencies, but always completely safe and imperceptible, eliminated nausea in most cases," said the neurologist from the University of Siena.
The discovery could now lead to the integration of electrical stimulators inside the viewers used by those who use virtual reality for prolonged times, for example surgeons engaged in training or for the increasingly common remote operations in which they guide robotic instruments using an immersive viewer. "Another application – added Rossi – could be for astronauts who can suffer from nausea when they are in microgravity environments".
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