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Salford takes General Election into virtual reality

Wednesday 7 June 2017

WITH tomorrow's General Election, the University of Salford has been inviting the voting public to engage in some political debate with a difference.

People have been defending their views – or venting their spleen - without anyone taking issue since volunteers aren't arguing with real people but with computer-generated avatars!

So, if you have Brexit, immigration or the NHS on your mind, you can while away a half hour by taking part in an experiment to help scientists understand more about our brains.

The Virtual Reality ‘Election Booth’ is open to staff, students and the public from Tuesday, June 6 all week at the Peel Park campus and is part of the University of Salford’s research into how virtual reality can help our mental health.

Wind up merchant 

David Roberts, professor of telepresence in the School of Health Sciences, explains: “Participants will interact with two virtual humans, one of which will try to wind them up over politics and Brexit. It should be fun, but you need a pretty thick skin and we wouldn’t recommend it for people who might get upset about a confrontational conversation.”

In fact, the confrontation is where the science gets interesting, says Roberts.

"We’re looking to understand what happens in the brain during these types of social interactions and using avatars allows us to control the conditions that prompt the neural and psychophysiological responses.

Anti-social disorders 

The debates are part of an ongoing study into mental health which the University hopes will eventually help with the treatment of psychological disorders, including anti-social disorders.

Volunteers must be 18+, have no epilepsy, frequent migraine or motion sickness, and not have excessively sensitive skin or excessively thick or curly hair. They will receive a £10 reimbursement for travel (for participants from outside the University).


Further Information and Contact details:

Godson Ahamba

University of Salford,

School of Health Sciences,

Allerton Building,

Room L526