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Open AccessArticle

Sensorimotor Research Utilising Immersive Virtual Reality: A Pilot Study with Children and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

1
Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialisation, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Via Venezia 8, Italy
2
Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Via Venezia 8, Italy
3
School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast BT9 5BN, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(5), 259; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10050259
Received: 14 April 2020 / Revised: 25 April 2020 / Accepted: 26 April 2020 / Published: 29 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Autism Research)
When learning and interacting with the world, people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) show compromised use of vision and enhanced reliance on body-based information. As this atypical profile is associated with motor and social difficulties, interventions could aim to reduce the potentially isolating reliance on the body and foster the use of visual information. To this end, head-mounted displays (HMDs) have unique features that enable the design of Immersive Virtual Realities (IVR) for manipulating and training sensorimotor processing. The present study assesses feasibility and offers some early insights from a new paradigm for exploring how children and adults with ASD interact with Reality and IVR when vision and proprioception are manipulated. Seven participants (five adults, two children) performed a self-turn task in two environments (Reality and IVR) for each of three sensory conditions (Only Proprioception, Only Vision, Vision + Proprioception) in a purpose-designed testing room and an HMD-simulated environment. The pilot indicates good feasibility of the paradigm. Preliminary data visualisation suggests the importance of considering inter-individual variability. The participants in this study who performed worse with Only Vision and better with Only Proprioception seemed to benefit from the use of IVR. Those who performed better with Only Vision and worse with Only Proprioception seemed to benefit from Reality. Therefore, we invite researchers and clinicians to consider that IVR may facilitate or impair individuals depending on their profiles. View Full-Text
Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; ASD; vision; proprioception; self-motion; immersive virtual reality; IVR; HMD; technology autism spectrum disorder; ASD; vision; proprioception; self-motion; immersive virtual reality; IVR; HMD; technology
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Valori, I.; Bayramova, R.; McKenna-Plumley, P.E.; Farroni, T. Sensorimotor Research Utilising Immersive Virtual Reality: A Pilot Study with Children and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 259.

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