Psychophysiological Response in Virtual Reality based Human-Computer Interaction in Adolescents with ASD

Uttama Lahiri, Karla Conn Welch, and Medha Sarkar

Keywords

ASD, virtualreality, physiological features, affective states

Abstract

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often exhibit deficits in social communication skills. Specifically, these children are characterized by communicative impairments, particularly regarding expression of affective states (e.g., anxiety, enjoyment, and engagement). Research have shown that, they often experience states of emotional stress measured as Autonomic Nervous System activation without proper external expressions, thereby placing limits on traditional conversational and observational methodologies. Recently, several assistive technologies, particularly Virtual Reality (VR) based human-computer interaction (HCI), have been investigated to promote social interactions in this population. Here we present a feasibility study that describes the development of a VR-based social communication system. The uniqueness of this study is that it shows the feasibility of a VR-based system to be affect-sensitive by using a physiology based approach. As physiological signals are not necessarily impacted by the communicative impairments characterizing children with ASD, seamless integration of a VR-based system with one’s physiological signals in a time-synchronized manner can lead to the development of a potential affect-sensitive tool for autism intervention.

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