DYNECOM: Augmenting Empathy in VR with Dyadic Synchrony Neurofeedback

AbstractIn a novel experimental setting, we augmented a variation of traditional compassion meditation with our custom built VR environment for multiple concurrent users. The system incorporates respiration and brainwave based biofeedback that enables responsiveness to the shared physiological states of the users. The presence of another user’s avatar in the shared virtual space supported low level social interactions and provided active targets for evoked compassion. We enhanced interoception and the deep empathetic processes involved in compassion meditation with real time visualizations of breathing rates and the level of approach motivation assessed from EEG frontal asymmetry, and the dyadic synchrony of those signals between the two users. We found how the different biofeedback types increased both the amount of physiological synchrony between the users and their self-reported empathy, illustrating how dyadic synchrony biofeedback can expand the possibilities of biofeedback in affective computing and VR solutions for health and wellness.

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