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Maria Sanchez-Vives

Is this my body? Mechanisms, consequences and applications of virtual embodiment

Maria Sanchez-Vives, MD, PhD
ICREA Research Professor at the IDIBAPS (Institute of Biomedical Research August Pi i Sunyer), Barcelona, Spain

Our body representation is a key part of our own self and of how the others perceive us. In spite of our subjective impression of identification and attachment to our real, physical body, recent investigation in virtual reality has demonstrated that our real body can be rapidly substituted by a virtual body while in an immersive virtual enviroment. If done successfully, a feeling of ownership and agency can be developed over the newly acquired virtual body. The embodiment of avatars has permitted the exploration of the rules that allow this process to occur as well as the research into the brain mechanisms that generate the illusion that our body is our own. But furthermore, the embodiment of a virtual body has consequences at different levels: physical, behavioral and psychological. Different mechanisms, consequencies and applications of virtual embodiment will be discussed.

Speaker’s Brief Bio

Maria V. Sanchez-Vives, MD, PhD has been ICREA Research Professor at the IDIBAPS since 2008, where she is head of the Systems Neuroscience group. She is Adjunct Professor of the Department of Basic Psychology at the University of Barcelona and co-director of the EVENT Lab (Experimental Virtual Environments in Neuroscience and Technology, www.event-lab.org). She is also one of the founders of Neurotransvirtual Technologies (neurotransvirtual.com).