We are very pleased to welcome three distinguished plenary speakers, with many years of experience in VR related research, at the VECTOR workshop: Prof. Dr. Gary Bente (University of Cologne), Dr. Emmanuele Tidoni (University of Rome La Sapienza), and Prof. Dr. Andreas Mühlberger (University of Regensburg). The keynote lectures are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday (see the program).
Prof. Dr. Gary Bente University of Cologne Michigan State University
Gary Bente is professor for Media- and Communication Psychology at the University of Cologne. He pioneered the use of virtual characters (avatars) as a tool in communication research. As early as 2002 he pulished a textbook on the use of VR in basic research and practical applications. His work on non-verbal communication, VR and media effects has been published in over 200 articles in international, peer-reviewed journals. In his recent work he investigates how to create convincing virtual selves which can convey realistic social behavior in Shared Virtual Environments (SVE). He addresses both technological as well as methodological issues, that is how to create immersive SVEs via real-time face and body tracking and how to measure and manipulate non-verbal social cues like gaze and movement behaviour to influence social perception and communication outcomes. One of the core areas of this research is the study of culture-specific patterns in non-verbal communication. Current projects aim to include artificial social intelligence components into SVEs which are able to monitor and moderate ongoing interactions and to use this technology in clinical application, as for instance as assistive or therapeutic tools for high-functioning autism.
Dr. Emmanuele Tidoni University of Rome La Sapienza
Emmanuele Tidoni is a senior research fellow at the Social and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory headed by Salvatore Maria Aglioti. For over ten years, the lab investigates the neural representation of the body image in healthy and brain damaged patients, combining new research lines and technologies to investigate the foundations of the embodied, social mind. In this vein, Emmanuele Tidonis research focuses on the multimodal assessment of embodiment in virtual characters, combining behavioral and neurophysiological approaches in virtual realities. He is particularly interested in ownership and agency for virtual and robotic agents. In his latest study, he investigated the activation of the action monitoring system when embodying an avatar in an immersive virtual reality through EEG recordings. Further, he investigated the relation between visual integrity and body ownership for virtual avatars with implicit physiological and explicit behavioral measures.
Prof. Dr. Andreas Mühlberger University of Regensburg
Andreas Mühlberger is the head of the chair of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Regensburg. He is one of the pioneers of virtual reality exposure therapy in Germany. In the past ten years, he investigated the prospects and applications of virtual reality setups in the treatment of specific phobias. Furthermore, he addressed the emotional immersion in virtual realities, by investigating the relation between presence and fear. Besides his work on the basis and treatment of anxiety disorders, he used virtual realities to study human behavior in emergency cases. In a series of experiments he investigated hazard perception, social cognition and evacuation behavior in virtual tunnel accidents.