Eye Tracking for Anxiety Therapy Research

Background image

VTplus GmbH has created a virtual exposure solution for anxiety therapy research using SMI HMD eye tracking for virtual reality.

Challenge

For exposure therapy to succeed, it is not only crucial that the patients confront the anxiety-provoking elements of the situation, but that the therapist remains informed about the patient’s field of view.

Solution

Using SMI eye-tracking in the Oculus Rift DK2 head-mounted display as part of the VTplus VR exposure system, the gaze direction and the visual attention of the patient are known at all times.

SMI Eye Tracking

VR simulations offer a controlled, yet ecologically-valid research method. SMI's unique eye tracking integration in the Oculus Rift DK2 – proven for practical usage in everyday situations – offers real-time information on the visual orientation of the patient, thus advancing therapy process research and optimizing the confrontation exercises.

Benefit

The VTplus VR software evaluates which elements are observed and when they are looked at and, based on this eye tracking data, the therapist is well-placed to tune the VR exposure exercises individually to each patient and offer more specific instructions. Furthermore, the therapist is also better informed to judge the success of the confrontation exercises.

Background

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental disorders. When they become chronic – and they often do – they can cause considerable suffering and significantly impair the lives of those affected.

Exposure therapy (in vivo) is one of the most successful methods of helping people cope with such anxiety disorders. But replicating the real situation (in vivo) is often either not feasible (e.g. for post-traumatic stress disorder) or very complex (e.g. air travel scenarios).

Virtual reality (VR) is one way of overcoming such hurdles. A VR head-mounted display enables the patient to experience anxiety-provoking situations which the therapist can control and easily interchange in the comfort and safety of a therapy room

Benefit

The VTplus VR software evaluates which elements are observed and when they are looked at and, based on this eye tracking data, the therapist is well-placed to tune the VR exposure exercises individually to each patient and offer more specific instructions. Furthermore, the therapist is also better informed to judge the success of the confrontation exercises.

Customer institution VTPlus GmbH
Customer name Mathias Müller
Customer website www.vtplus.eu