Stimulating the Brain in VR: Effects of Transcranial Direct-Current Stimulation on Redirected Walking

Eike Langbehn, Frank Steinicke, Chai Ping Koo-Poeggel, Lisa Marshall, Gerd Bruder


Redirected walking (RDW) enables virtual reality (VR) users to explore large virtual environments (VE) in confined tracking spaces by guiding users on different paths in the real world than in the VE. However, so far, spaces larger than typical room-scale setups of 5m × 5m are still required to allow infinitely straight walking, i. e., to prevent a subjective mismatch between real and virtual paths. This mismatch could in theory be reduced by interacting with the underlying brain activity. Transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) presents a simply method able to modify ongoing cortical activity and excitability levels. Hence, this approach provides enormous potential to widen detection thresholds for RDW, and consequently reduce the above mentioned space requirements. In this paper, we conducted a psychophysical experiment using tDCS to evaluate detection thresholds for RDW gains. In the stimulation conditon 1.25 mA cathodal tDCS were applid over the prefrontal cortex (AF4 with Pz for the return current) for 20 minutes. TDCS failed to exert a significant overall effect on detection thresholds. However, for the highest gain only, path deviance was significantly modified by tDCS. In addition, subjectively reported disorientation was significantly lower during the tDCS as compared to the sham condition. Along the same line, oculomotor cyber sickness symptoms after the session were significantly decreased compared to baseline in tDCS, while there was no significant effect in sham. This work presents the first use of tDCS during virtual walking which provides new vistas for future research in the area of neurostimulation in VR.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSAP '19: ACM Symposium on Applied Perception 2019
EditorsSolène Neyret, Elena Kokkinara, Mar Gonzalez Franco, Ludovic Hoyet, Douglas W. Cunningham, Justyna Świdrak
Number of pages9
Publication date19.09.2019
ISBN (Print)978-145036890-2
Publication statusPublished - 19.09.2019
Event16th International ACM Symposium on Applied Perception
- University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 19.09.201920.09.2019
Conference number: 151927

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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