Schubring, D., Kraus, M., Stolz, C., Weiler, N., Keim, D. A., & Schupp, H. (2020). Virtual Reality Potentiates Emotion and Task Effects of Alpha/Beta Brain Oscillations. Brain Sciences, 10(8), 537. doi: 10.3390/brainsci10080537
The progress of technology has increased research on neuropsychological emotion and attention with virtual reality (VR). However, direct comparisons between conventional two-dimensional (2D) and VR stimulations are lacking. Thus, the present study compared electroencephalography (EEG) correlates of explicit task and implicit emotional attention between 2D and VR stimulation. Participants (n = 16) viewed angry and neutral faces with equal size and distance in both 2D and VR, while they were asked to count one of the two facial expressions. For the main effects of emotion (angry vs. neutral) and task (target vs. nontarget), established event related potentials (ERP), namely the late positive potential (LPP) and the target P300, were replicated. VR stimulation compared to 2D led to overall bigger ERPs but did not interact with emotion or task effects. In the frequency domain, alpha/beta-activity was larger in VR compared to 2D stimulation already in the baseline period. Of note, while alpha/beta event related desynchronization (ERD) for emotion and task conditions were seen in both VR and 2D stimulation, these effects were significantly stronger in VR than in 2D. These results suggest that enhanced immersion with the stimulus materials enabled by VR technology can potentiate induced brain oscillation effects to implicit emotion and explicit task effects.