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Feeling present in arousing virtual reality worlds: prefrontal brain regions differentially orchestrate presence experience in adults and children.

Baumgartner T, Speck D, Wettstein D, Masnari O, Beeli G, Jäncke L - Front Hum Neurosci (2008)

Bottom Line: The experience of presence in adult subjects was found to be modulated by two major strategies involving two homologous prefrontal brain structures.In contrast, there was no evidence of these two strategies in children.In fact, anatomical analyses showed that these two prefrontal areas have not yet reached full maturity in children.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Psychology, Department of Neuropsychology, University of Zurich Switzerland. t.baumgartner@iew.uzh.ch

ABSTRACT
Virtual reality (VR) is a powerful tool for simulating aspects of the real world. The success of VR is thought to depend on its ability to evoke a sense of "being there", that is, the feeling of "Presence". In view of the rapid progress in the development of increasingly more sophisticated virtual environments (VE), the importance of understanding the neural underpinnings of presence is growing. To date however, the neural correlates of this phenomenon have received very scant attention. An fMRI-based study with 52 adults and 25 children was therefore conducted using a highly immersive VE. The experience of presence in adult subjects was found to be modulated by two major strategies involving two homologous prefrontal brain structures. Whereas the right DLPFC controlled the sense of presence by down-regulating the activation in the egocentric dorsal visual processing stream, the left DLPFC up-regulated widespread areas of the medial prefrontal cortex known to be involved in self-reflective and stimulus-independent thoughts. In contrast, there was no evidence of these two strategies in children. In fact, anatomical analyses showed that these two prefrontal areas have not yet reached full maturity in children. Taken together, this study presents the first findings that show activation of a highly specific neural network orchestrating the experience of presence in adult subjects, and that the absence of activity in this neural network might contribute to the generally increased susceptibility of children for the experience of presence in VEs.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Positive connectivity with right DLPFC in children. (A) Positive connectivity (red colour) with right DLPFC mainly in subcortical and emotional areas (including amygdala/hippocampus and insula) as well as multisensory integration areas (posterior STG), areas of the ventral visual processing stream (including Fusiform Gyrus) and small clusters in prefrontal areas (inferior and medial PFC) in children subjects (at p < 0.005, cluster extent: 10 voxels; Amy, amygdala; Hip, hippocampus; ITG/MTG,STG, inferior/middle/superior temporal gyrus; Put, putamen; IFG, inferior frontal gyrus; MPFC, medial prefrontal cortex). (B) Significant differences in positive connectivity between right DLPFC and left DLPFC in areas depicted in (A), at p < 0.005 (yellow), p < 0.01 (violet) and p < 0.05 (green, all with a cluster extent of 10 voxels). In children subjects, all areas depict a clear right-sided lateralization pattern in positive connectivity.
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Figure 4: Positive connectivity with right DLPFC in children. (A) Positive connectivity (red colour) with right DLPFC mainly in subcortical and emotional areas (including amygdala/hippocampus and insula) as well as multisensory integration areas (posterior STG), areas of the ventral visual processing stream (including Fusiform Gyrus) and small clusters in prefrontal areas (inferior and medial PFC) in children subjects (at p < 0.005, cluster extent: 10 voxels; Amy, amygdala; Hip, hippocampus; ITG/MTG,STG, inferior/middle/superior temporal gyrus; Put, putamen; IFG, inferior frontal gyrus; MPFC, medial prefrontal cortex). (B) Significant differences in positive connectivity between right DLPFC and left DLPFC in areas depicted in (A), at p < 0.005 (yellow), p < 0.01 (violet) and p < 0.05 (green, all with a cluster extent of 10 voxels). In children subjects, all areas depict a clear right-sided lateralization pattern in positive connectivity.

Mentions: In the subsequent PPI analysis, we examined whether children demonstrated a connectivity pattern similar to that of adults, both irrespective of the presence rating and despite the fact that they showed comparatively smaller and a non-significant negative correlation with bilateral DLPFC and the presence rating (as has been shown above, see Figure S2). Interestingly, we found that children demonstrated a positive connectivity with their right DLPFC mainly in subcortical and emotional brain regions (including bilateral hippocampus/amygdala and insula) (Baumgartner et al., 2006a; Phillips et al., 2003), multisensory integration areas (temporo-parietal junction, BA 39, 40, 22) (Beauchamp et al., 2004; Downar et al., 2000), areas of the ventral visual stream (including fusiform gyrus and middle temporal gyrus, BA 37, 21) as well as two small clusters in the prefrontal cortex of which one was located in the medial PFC (Figures 4A,B and Table S8). Notably and in stark contrast to adult subjects, no negative connectivity with the right DLPFC and no positive connectivity with the left DLPFC were observed in the children, indicating a highly differential orchestration of the presence experience in adults and children in terms of lateralization pattern and connected brain regions.


Feeling present in arousing virtual reality worlds: prefrontal brain regions differentially orchestrate presence experience in adults and children.

Baumgartner T, Speck D, Wettstein D, Masnari O, Beeli G, Jäncke L - Front Hum Neurosci (2008)

Positive connectivity with right DLPFC in children. (A) Positive connectivity (red colour) with right DLPFC mainly in subcortical and emotional areas (including amygdala/hippocampus and insula) as well as multisensory integration areas (posterior STG), areas of the ventral visual processing stream (including Fusiform Gyrus) and small clusters in prefrontal areas (inferior and medial PFC) in children subjects (at p < 0.005, cluster extent: 10 voxels; Amy, amygdala; Hip, hippocampus; ITG/MTG,STG, inferior/middle/superior temporal gyrus; Put, putamen; IFG, inferior frontal gyrus; MPFC, medial prefrontal cortex). (B) Significant differences in positive connectivity between right DLPFC and left DLPFC in areas depicted in (A), at p < 0.005 (yellow), p < 0.01 (violet) and p < 0.05 (green, all with a cluster extent of 10 voxels). In children subjects, all areas depict a clear right-sided lateralization pattern in positive connectivity.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2572200&req=5

Figure 4: Positive connectivity with right DLPFC in children. (A) Positive connectivity (red colour) with right DLPFC mainly in subcortical and emotional areas (including amygdala/hippocampus and insula) as well as multisensory integration areas (posterior STG), areas of the ventral visual processing stream (including Fusiform Gyrus) and small clusters in prefrontal areas (inferior and medial PFC) in children subjects (at p < 0.005, cluster extent: 10 voxels; Amy, amygdala; Hip, hippocampus; ITG/MTG,STG, inferior/middle/superior temporal gyrus; Put, putamen; IFG, inferior frontal gyrus; MPFC, medial prefrontal cortex). (B) Significant differences in positive connectivity between right DLPFC and left DLPFC in areas depicted in (A), at p < 0.005 (yellow), p < 0.01 (violet) and p < 0.05 (green, all with a cluster extent of 10 voxels). In children subjects, all areas depict a clear right-sided lateralization pattern in positive connectivity.
Mentions: In the subsequent PPI analysis, we examined whether children demonstrated a connectivity pattern similar to that of adults, both irrespective of the presence rating and despite the fact that they showed comparatively smaller and a non-significant negative correlation with bilateral DLPFC and the presence rating (as has been shown above, see Figure S2). Interestingly, we found that children demonstrated a positive connectivity with their right DLPFC mainly in subcortical and emotional brain regions (including bilateral hippocampus/amygdala and insula) (Baumgartner et al., 2006a; Phillips et al., 2003), multisensory integration areas (temporo-parietal junction, BA 39, 40, 22) (Beauchamp et al., 2004; Downar et al., 2000), areas of the ventral visual stream (including fusiform gyrus and middle temporal gyrus, BA 37, 21) as well as two small clusters in the prefrontal cortex of which one was located in the medial PFC (Figures 4A,B and Table S8). Notably and in stark contrast to adult subjects, no negative connectivity with the right DLPFC and no positive connectivity with the left DLPFC were observed in the children, indicating a highly differential orchestration of the presence experience in adults and children in terms of lateralization pattern and connected brain regions.

Bottom Line: The experience of presence in adult subjects was found to be modulated by two major strategies involving two homologous prefrontal brain structures.In contrast, there was no evidence of these two strategies in children.In fact, anatomical analyses showed that these two prefrontal areas have not yet reached full maturity in children.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Psychology, Department of Neuropsychology, University of Zurich Switzerland. t.baumgartner@iew.uzh.ch

ABSTRACT
Virtual reality (VR) is a powerful tool for simulating aspects of the real world. The success of VR is thought to depend on its ability to evoke a sense of "being there", that is, the feeling of "Presence". In view of the rapid progress in the development of increasingly more sophisticated virtual environments (VE), the importance of understanding the neural underpinnings of presence is growing. To date however, the neural correlates of this phenomenon have received very scant attention. An fMRI-based study with 52 adults and 25 children was therefore conducted using a highly immersive VE. The experience of presence in adult subjects was found to be modulated by two major strategies involving two homologous prefrontal brain structures. Whereas the right DLPFC controlled the sense of presence by down-regulating the activation in the egocentric dorsal visual processing stream, the left DLPFC up-regulated widespread areas of the medial prefrontal cortex known to be involved in self-reflective and stimulus-independent thoughts. In contrast, there was no evidence of these two strategies in children. In fact, anatomical analyses showed that these two prefrontal areas have not yet reached full maturity in children. Taken together, this study presents the first findings that show activation of a highly specific neural network orchestrating the experience of presence in adult subjects, and that the absence of activity in this neural network might contribute to the generally increased susceptibility of children for the experience of presence in VEs.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus