INTERESTS: Physical training, Cognitive benefits, Immersive virtual reality.
Beneficial effects of a virtual physical training on cognitive function exploiting the Immersive Virtual Reality technique.
Previous studies reported that keeping a certain level of physical activity has beneficial consequences on the body itself, but also, surprisingly, on cognition, in elderly as well as young adults. Unfortunately, in some cases, it is complicated or even impossible to perform aerobic or strength training (e.g. frail elderly, cardiophatic patients or recovering after a long-term disease, etc); this lack of physical exercise negatively affects body reactions as well as cognitive functions.
With the studies proposed here, we aim to show motor and cognitive improvements after training in Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR): this technique allows participants to actually train their body and cognition trough training their virtual body. For example, while the subject is totally still and sees his virtual body walking in first-person perspective, his physical body reacts as if he’s actually walking (e.g. heart rate increase), inducing beneficial consequences also on subject’s cognitive and neural functions. Or, a motor task performed by one’s virtual body can be transferred to the real body, faster and better than when learning from someone else.
These results can re-define theoretical models of motor control and they would be useful in clinical terms, i.e. improve physical and cognitive abilities, at the same time, providing a safe and entertaining environment.