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Events Section Subtitle

Events and Seminars: Events

MoTIVE Project Seminar Series

24th February, 2020


Room 2107

Mundet Campus, University of Barcelona

Walking together in groups

Merle T. Fairhurst

Much of what we know about how we temporally coordinate with others is based on research on dyadic interaction.  However, from sports to group music making to surgical interventions, we often do things together with more than two people and coordinating with a group may not simply scale. Instead it may significantly change how we coordinate with, relate to and feel about ourselves and others. Do we follow the (temporal) leader of the group or instead coordinate our behaviour based on the average performance of the group as a whole? Will we observe scaled outgroup effects such that we behave and feel differently when coordinating with several individuals who are different to ourselves? Departing from tasks involving limb coordination, in this talk I will introduce and discuss a novel task, chosen for its enactive and ecological qualities, that involves the whole body. The immersive quality is particularly important for modulating subjective feelings of agency and implementation into a virtual reality (VR) environment. Data will be shown from two behavioural studies, one in which a participant walks with a group of 8 virtual auditory partners, the other where we tested groups of 7 coordinating individuals. Lastly, I will discuss how this paradigm is being adapted to an audio-visual VR environment to test significantly larger groups sizes and the effect this has on the so-called self-to-other ratio.  Using a paradigm that models a typical everyday behaviour, this project describes rich, dynamic interactions between coordinating individuals. Moreover, based on the presented empirical studies, I will discuss how this adds to a richer theoretical account of the self as it relates to others.    

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MoTIVE Project Seminar Series

21st February, 2020

12:00 - 13:00

Room 2107 (Psicologia)

Mundet Campus, University of Barcelona

Professor Diego Gutierrez

Advances in VR for an improved user experience


In this talk we will present some recent and on-going works about VR from the Graphics and Imaging Lab of the Universidad de Zaragoza. We will focus on advances that aim to improve the overall user experience, and will cover a wide range of topics including storytelling in VR, extension to six degrees of freedom from captured content, or real-to-virtual camera manipulations. 

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5th February, 220

Invited talk by Domna Banakou, Middlesex University Dubai

24th January, 2020

The MoTIVE project is an ERC Advanced Grant concerned with reconstructing events from the past in virtual reality and using these for various scientific studies. This symposium will introduce the project by a series of talks from the researchers involved and others.

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Event Lab Seminar
Room 1105 Ponent, Facultat de Psicologia, Mundet Campus, Universitat de Barcelona

12.00-13.00, 10th December, 2019

Marta Ferrer-Garcia , Departamento de Personalidad, Evaluación y Tratamientos Psicológicos

Virtual reality-based exposure for the treatment of eating disorders

Since the late nineties, virtual reality (VR) has been increasingly used in the field of clinical psychology research. Gradually, and in parallel to the development of more economical and easier-to-manage VR systems, the use of this technology has also expanded in clinical practice. Virtual reality offers a good alternative to guided imagination and in vivo exposure, and therefore it is very useful for studies and interventions that require exposure to situations of everyday life that cannot be reproduced in the therapist’s office – hence the success of VR-based exposure in the treatment of phobias. In my presentation, I will briefly introduce the main characteristics and uses of VR in the study, assessment, and treatment of eating disorders. I will then focus on two research lines in which our team is currently involved: first, I will discuss the development and efficacy of VR-based cue exposure therapy for the treatment of binge eating-related disorders and present several clinical cases; and second, I will outline the very first steps of a study whose main aim is the development of a VR-based exposure software for the treatment of body image-related anxiety in patients with anorexia nervosa. The advantages and challenges of using virtual reality technology will be addressed.

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Event Lab Seminar

Room 2211, Facultat de Psicologia, Mundet Campus, Universitat de Barcelona

3.00, 5th November, 2019

Nuria Pelechano

Human-Avatar Interaction in immersive VR  

For the last fifteen years my research focus has been to improve the overall realism of groups of virtual humanoids. I have worked on different aspects of this challenge including rendering, animation and simulation for real-time applications. Immersive Virtual Reality presents an ideal platform to evaluate different aspects of virtual human simulation, from small groups to crowds, but it also offers a platform to study human decisions and reactions based on the behaviour of the virtual humanoids.  In my speech I will present results on how we have used perception to evaluate different aspects of crowd simulation. I will cover the complexity of using perception to validate crowd simulation models, with a focus on lessons learned on how the animation itself can strongly affect the evaluation of simulation models. Finally, I will present our most recent work on Immersive Virtual Reality, where we are studying how crowd appearance and movement can have an impact on user behaviour and decision making.

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23-27 October, 2019

Domna Banakou (invited speaker), at The Active Self Autumn School I, Herrsching, Germany.

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Event Lab Seminar

16th October, 2019

Amir Amedi, How technology, life experiences and imagination shape the human brain.

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9th October, 2019

Mel Slater (invited speaker) Using Virtual Reality to Reduce Racial Bias and Sexual Harassment, Lausanne, Switzerland

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4-9th October 2019

Domna Banakou (invited speaker) Being Somebody Else: The Future of Narrative Storytelling, Filmteractive, Lodz, Poland, 

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1-4th September, 2019

Tania JohnstonImmersive Virtual Reality For The Rehabilitation Of Intimate Partner Violent Behaviour

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18-20th July, 2019

Tania JohnstonConVRself: using self-conversation in virtual reality to modify dysfunctional Thinking

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16th July, 2019

Mel Slater (invited talk) Virtual reality in closed-loop learning, in workshop Model-Driven Closed-Loop Technologies for Neuroscience Research

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25th June, 2019

Mel Slater (keynote) Using Virtual Reality for Implicit Learning.

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Amazon Workshop, Seattle, USA.

11th June, 2019

Mel Slater (invited talk) Practical Illusions of Virtual Reality

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9th June, 2019

Mel Slater (invited talk) Fostering Empathic Response through Virtual Reality

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20th May, 2019

Tania Johnston, Realidad virtual inmersiva para la rehabilitación de conductas violentas

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27th March, 2019

Mel Slater (Keynote) at Virtual Medicine 2019, Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles.

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March, 2019

Domna Banakou (invited speaker) Integrative Science Symposium: How Changing Our Bodies changes Our Selves, 3rd Biennial International Convention of Psychological Science, Paris, France.

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20-22nd February, 2019

Tania Johnston and Justyna Świdrak, on Virtual Reality and Gender Violence Rehabilitation

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28th February - 1st March, 2019

This Symposium brings together an interdisciplinary group of computer scientists, roboticists, virtual reality experts and neuroscientists to discuss the science and technology of virtual embodiment.

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February 2nd, 2019

Mavi Sanchez-Vives will speak at this event along with Francesc Nuñez,  and Jordi Vallverdú

Somos sujetos porque tenemos conciencia de nuestras acciones y experiencias; para Descartes, este es un rasgo característico de la especie humana, pero para Foucault, es un efecto de poder y de las disciplinas del yo, y en todo caso, el concepto aparece en periodo histórico y contexto cultural específico de los humanos. En esta sesión proponemos una ficción especulativa: en un mundo donde los robots, la realidad virtual y la realidad aumentada forman parte de todos los aspectos de la vida cotidiana, las nuevas generaciones han dejado de distinguir entre lo virtual y lo real. Convocamos a tres expertos en el estudio de la conciencia y de las emociones -un sociólogo, una neurocientífica y un filósofo de la ciencia- para analizar las consecuencias que esto podría tener para el futuro de la especie humana, en la percepción de nuestro cuerpo y en la construcción de nuestra subjetividad.

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Adventures of Identity: From the Double to the Avatar

13-14th December, 2018

Being Someone Else – The Power of Avatar Self Representation

Mel Slater

In this talk I will give several examples about the influence of virtual representations on the physiology, behaviour, attitudes and cognition of participants in virtual reality – with examples from learning history through to psychological therapy. I will describe a system where you can have a conversation with yourself from the perspective of different avatars. I will present the results of two experimental studies that suggest that such a scenario, if strange, is nevertheless advantageous with respect the solution of a person’s real-world problems. 

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Therapeutic Virtual Reality: Lessons Learned from the Clinical Trenches

3rd December, 2018

Brennan Spiegel, MD

Director, Health Services Research in Academic Affairs and Clinical Transformation, Cedars-Sinai Site Director, Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

Cedars Sinia

Los Angeles


Place: Esteve Auditorium, CEK Building,
C/ Rosellón, 149-153
08036 Barcelona

Time: 17:00-18:00



Not so far in the future, in lieu of popping a pill, doctors might prescribe a virtual beach vacation to ease aches and pains. Cardiologists might offer scenic tours of Icelandic fjords to lower blood pressure, instead of doubling up on drugs. Hospitals might immerse children in fantastical play lands while they receive chemotherapy or undergo frightening medical tests. It’s all starting to happen now because of virtual reality (VR). For decades, scientists in elite universities have been quietly discovering the surprising health benefits of VR for ailments ranging from burn injuries, to stroke, to PTSD. Over 3000 studies reveal that VR has an uncanny ability to block pain, calm nerves and boost mental health without drugs and their unwanted side effects. But the technology has been too expensive, unreliable and unwieldy for the research to translate beyond the pages of academic journals and doctoral dissertations… until now. Explosive advances in delivering low-cost, portable and high-quality VR to the masses has spawned a field called Medical VR.  In this lecture, Dr. Spiegel will describe frontline stories of using VR in over 3000 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and will review his lab’s latest clinical research, including a recent randomized controlled trial testing VR in the hospital setting. The lecture will also review their new research using VR for blood pressure management, opioid reduction, and pediatrics at Cedars-Sinai.

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Artificial Intelligence:
New Questions for Legislation and Applied Ethics

23rd November 2018

Thomas Metzinger

Professor of Theoretical Philosophy Johannes Gutenberg Institute

University of Mainz,


Place: Sala de Graus, Facultat de Psilocologia, Mundet Campus, University of Barcelona.

Time: 12:00-13:00

This introductory lecture will deal with ethical problems of AI research and AI technology, but will also draw attention to possible cultural consequences and the psychosocial follow-up costs. Artificial intelligence and ever more complex algorithms influence our life and civilization more than ever, there are many new issues for applied ethics, for example, value alignment, military applications, accelerated societal stratification, or synthetic phenomenology. Technological progress presents us with historically novel ethical challenges and different stakeholders compete, having different interests and motives. Much of this still sounds like science fiction today - but from a strictly rational, philosophical perspective it is clear that high potential damage levels are to be taken seriously even if their associated probability of occurrence is low.

If time allows, I will also raise the question of whether it might make sense to increasingly implement moral cognitionitselfin artificial systems. Artificial moral reasoners obviously would not suffer from any cognitive biases, they would maximize the impartiality and rationality of ethical judgments, in complex normative task-domains they would certainly operate with much higher speed than humans, and they could integrate a much larger data-base as empirical premises into their ethical decisions than biological brains ever could. At what point would we accept the epistemic authority of ethical AI, for example, if “reflexively” applied to the ethics of AI itself?

Introductory reading:

Metzinger, T. (2013c). Two principles for robot ethics.In E. HilgendorfJ.-P. Günther(Hrsg.), Robotik und Gesetzgebung. Baden-Baden: Nomos. S. 263-302.

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15th November, 2018

Real Violence and Virtual Reality: Panel Discussion with Mel Slater and Peter Fisher.

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7th November, 2018

Self-Transformation Through Virtual Embodiment, Keynote by Mel Slater.

In virtual reality you can look around wherever you like, and still of course see virtualreality. What happens when you look down towards yourself or in a virtual mirror? If it has been so programmed you will see a life-sized virtual body replacing your own. You are likely then to have the perceptual illusion that the virtual body is yours, even though you know for sure that it is not. In this talk I will show how this perceptual illusion can be used for various types of self-transformation. In particular I will concentrate on ‘becoming someone else’ and how this can be useful both for self-change and support resistance to peer pressure.

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25th October, 2018

Becoming Someone Else through Virtual Reality, Keynote Speech by Dr Domna Banakou

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27th September, 2018

Virtual reality in tackling sexual harassment, invited talk Mel Slater.

Embodiment in virtual reality involves visual substitution of their real body by a life-sized virtual body seen from their first person perspective. The virtual body can be programmed to move synchronously and in correspondence with their real movements, based on real- time motion capture. Typically participants will have the strong illusion that the virtual body is their own. Our previous work has shown how such embodiment can lead to changes in physiology such as responses to pain, behaviours and attitudes. Here we show how this concept has been used to tackle sexual harassment of women by groups of men, and also its application in diminishing recidivism amongst domestic violence offenders.

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20th September, 2018

On the search for cognitive and motor rejuvenation through virtual reality, invited talk by Mel Slater.

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4th September, 2018

Virtual Embodiment: Methods and Research, invited talk by Dr Domna Banakou

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6th July, 2018

Virtually being Einstein results in an improvement in cognitive ability and a decrease in age bias, poster presentation by Dr Domna Banakou.

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The Multifaceted Body, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh

29th June, 2018

Body representation: the technological perspective, keynote talk by Mel Slater.

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Virtual Reality as a Transformative Technology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

19th June 2018

Close Encounters with Your Virtual Self, invited talk by Mel Slater.

In this talk I will explore three illusions of virtual reality: the illusion of being in the virtual place, the illusion that what is happening is real, and the illusion of body ownership.  I will give examples of how body ownership over a body that is quite different to your own (e.g., age, race, gender, size) can lead to changes in physiology, behaviour, attitudes and cognition. I will give examples of where these illusions have been used to positive effect such as in clinical psychology, and a particular example of self-to-self interaction.

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15th June, 2018

From Synchronous Touch to Self-Transformation - Using Virtual Reality to Change the Self, Keynote talk by Mel Slater.

Botvinick and Cohen published a one page paper in Nature in 1998  called “Rubber hands 'feel' touch that eyes see.” This showed how you can have the illusion that a rubber hand is part of your body simply by tapping it while you feel the taps synchronously on your out-of-sight real hand. The same illusion has been produced in virtual reality. Additionally in VR you can look around wherever you like, and still of course see virtualreality. What happens when you look down towards yourself or in a virtual mirror? If it has been so programmed you will see a life-sized virtual body replacing your own. You are likely then to have the perceptual illusion that the virtual body is yours, even though you know for sure that it is not. In this talk I will describe this perceptual illusion, and examine its far reaching consequences.

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The Neurobiology of Moral Conscience

4-8th June, 2018

Perspective taking and immoral behaviour in immersive virtual reality, by Solène Neyret.

This presentation discussed an experiment involving how men experiencing a situation of sexual harassment of a woman from different perspectives might later respond in another situation that involved potential aggression towards a virtual woman. We found that those who had experienced the situation from the point of view of the woman were much less aggressive in the later task than those who had only experienced the situation from the point of view of a man. Our results support the idea that this method could be used in a training situation, to overcome social desirability leading individuals to engage into immoral behaviour in order to maintain their status inside a social group.

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6th June, 2018

Me, Myself and My Virtual Body, an invited talk by Mel Slater. 

In this talk I will explore the illusion of virtual ownership and its consequences, in particular showing that the type of virtual body can influence your physiology, behaviours, implicit attitudes and biases, your perception and even cognition. If profound aspects of ourselves, not only who we are but also the sense of our own agency, can be so easily and rapidly altered, with some evidence that the effects may be long lasting, then who are we? What does this mean for the future when it possible that a significant amount of the human experience may be in virtual worlds?

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7th May, 2018

Using Virtual Reality for a Change, Mel Slater.

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26th April, 2018

Self Transformation Through Virtual Reality, Mel Slater

In virtual reality you can look around wherever you like, and still of course see virtualreality. What happens when you look down towards yourself or in a virtual mirror? If it has been so programmed you will see a life-sized virtual body replacing your own. You are likely then to have the perceptual illusion that the virtual body is yours, even though you know for sure that it is not. In this talk I will describe this perceptual illusion, and examine its far reaching consequences.

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7th April, 2018

Mavi Sanchez-Vives talks about how VR technology is poised to take the world by storm but where the true value of the technology isn’t in entertainment. Mavi Sanchez-Vives is a neuroscientist and founder of a company using VR technology to help patients and users learn to manage physical and psychological issues using virtual reality. She works with a concept called ‘embodiment’ which relates to how we see ourselves within VR. If the perspective is in the first person, we ‘become’ the avatar and start to relate to them. Mavi and her team have used this technology with the Department of Justice in Catalonia with perpetrators of domestic violence.

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6th Apri, 2018

"Self Transformation Through Virtual Reality", keynote talk by Mel Slater.

In virtual reality you can look around wherever you like, and still of course see virtual reality. What happens when you look down towards yourself or in a virtual mirror? If it has been so programmed you will see a life-sized virtual body replacing your own. You are likely then to have the perceptual illusion that the virtual body is yours, even though you know for sure that it is not. In this talk I will describe this perceptual illusion, and examine its far reaching consequences.

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8-9th March, 2018

This workshop brings together experts from within and outside the Human Brain Project to discuss the relationship between brain and body from the point of view of philosophy, neuroscience, computer science, engineering and robotics. Each topic will be introduced by an expert in the field followed by debate and discussion. Attendees will learn about the Neurorobotics Sub-Project of the Human Brain Project in particular and about the fundamental scientific and practical questions that the brain-body relationship raises. They will have the chance to ask questions and debate with the expert speakers.

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21st February, 2018

Dr Mavi Sanchez-Vives will speak at this event which is part of the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.

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16th January, 2018, 18.00-20.00

JZ Young LT, Anatomy Building, UCL, London, hosted by the UCL Neuroscience Society.

Come along to learn how Virtual Reality can help us to study and understand the brain and what happens to our mind while in VR.

The Speakers include:

Dr Adam Kampff, Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, PhD in Neuroscience at Harvard University

Prof. Neil Burgess, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, UCL Institute of Neurology

Prof. Mel Slater, UCL Department of Computer Sciences & University of Barcelona

Prof. Maria Sanchez-Vives, System Neuroscience Group, IDIBAPS, Barcelona

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