Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Empathy For Virtual Characters Studied With FMRI Brain Imaging 52

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the little-billy-loved-hearing-virtual-screams dept.
vrml (3027321) writes "A novel brain imaging study published by the prestigious Neuroimage journal sheds light on different reactions that players' brains display when they meet a virtual character in a game world. While their head was inside a fMRI machine, participants played an interactive virtual experience in which they had to survive a serious fire emergency in a building by reaching an exit as soon as possible. However, when they finally arrived at the exit, they also found a virtual character trapped under an heavy cabinet, begging them for help. Some participants chose not to help the character and took the exit, while others stopped to help although the fire became more and more serious and moving away the cabinet required considerable time. Functional brain imaging showed activation of very different brain areas in players when they met the character. When there was an increased functional connectivity of the brain salience network, which suggests an enhanced sensitivity to the threatening situation and potential danger, players ignored the character screams and went for the exit. In those players who helped the character, there was an engagement of the medial prefrontal and temporo-parietal cortices, which in the neuroscience literature are associated with the human ability of taking the perspective of other individuals and making altruistic choices. The paper concludes by emphasizing how virtual worlds can be a salient and ecologically valid stimulus for modern social neuroscience."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Empathy For Virtual Characters Studied With FMRI Brain Imaging

Comments Filter:
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ish' in gap]> on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:25AM (#47522349)

    Really this is more about finding a way to collect proxy data for neuroscience, than about studying virtual worlds (despite the /. title). A problem with FMRi studies is that it's often hard to get people to both do what you want to study, and have them be hooked up to the FMRi at the same time. Videogames have the desirable property that people can do things in a "world" while conveniently keeping their head physically parked in the lab.

  • fMRI? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550)

    Didn't an animal study in 2009 or so show that fMRI was fundamentally flawed, as it showed brain activity in DEAD salmon?

    Ah, here it is:
    http://blogs.scientificamerica... [scientificamerican.com]

    • Re:fMRI? (Score:5, Funny)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:56AM (#47522535) Homepage

      It's not dead, it's pining for the fjords.

    • Re:fMRI? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Elbows (208758) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:06AM (#47522603)

      Interesting article. But I don't think it reaches the conclusion that you're suggesting.

      Some people like to use the salmon study as proof that fMRI is woo, but this isn't the case, it's actually a study to show the importance of correcting your stats.

      So basically fMRI studies are only as good (or as bad) as the statistical analysis you do of the data. Which is probably the case for a large portion of modern science.

    • by h5inz (1284916)
      "The procedure is similar to MRI but uses the change in magnetization between oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood as its basic measure."- so now think about it. Yes it could find false positives in dead fish brain, but it is still a good way to acquire information about the brain activity of a living being. Yes I also do know that a damaged brain area also shows abnormally high oxidation but you can just pick the healthy volunteers for this kind of study. It sometimes seems that some people just don't want to
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      All that proves is why multiple comparisons correction is so important, and why everyone uses it.

  • Brain scans and actions aside, did they question the people who didn't save the NPC, or were they asked to act as if everything in the simulation was real?

    Without the last instruction, my thought would have been "screw the NPC, I'm not going to fail the test for a virtual

    And no, I didn't RTFA.

    • My question was more along the lines of "do these people in the simulation regularly play video games?" I'm a long time gamer and I would assume that saving the bystander AND getting to the fire exit would be the required goals for a maximum score, even if I knew that there was no "score."
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      You don't need to know why, because what they were measuring is what steers the reasoning. You either have the emotional response or you don't.

  • There are days that I can rarely work up empathy for real people.

    Coincidentally, those are the days that I have to drive on the 405. I wonder if there is a connection?

  • > virtual dangerous fire escape

    "After further study to discern the validity of the virtual-to-real world response, we have decided to rename the region of the brain that lit up in the rescuers as the "minimaxxer seeking rare drops" area and that of those who just fled as the "IDGAF trolls hahahablongota".

  • How much virtual money is your virtual life worth? 10k fakecoins and I'll help you escape...

  • ...They should make someone play FF7 and run this test at the point where Aerith(/Aeris) dies.

  • by Rande (255599) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:46AM (#47522873) Homepage

    Is the NPC rescue a quest?
    Is it likely to give significant XP/Gold?
    Does the NPC respawn even after I've rescued it once?

  • I wonder if some of the people who refused to help the NPC were simply not too familiar with first-person games and confused about the controls? Moving a cabinet and pulling up a person to safety are things that could require complex interactions with the environment and many of the participants in the test were probably just getting used to walking around.
    • In the study itself, they mention that the participants were given a tutorial on how the controls worked - there were only apparently a few buttons and they were all very simple to understand (one was "move" and one was "push"). What I'm wondering about is whether this one effect that I don't think has a name came into play. According to the study, to free the trapped character, the participants had to push the "Push" button a total of 41 times. There were a few participants who started pushing and didn't f

  • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:59AM (#47522945) Homepage Journal

    Maybe they didn't help because the "person" wasn't real. Or, maybe they did help because they weren't in real physical danger. I don't know how relevant either is to the "real world".

  • ...when they finally arrived at the exit, they also found a virtual character trapped under an heavy cabinet, begging them for help. Some participants chose not to help the character and took the exit, while others stopped to help although the fire became more and more serious and moving away the cabinet required considerable time.

    ...which suggests an enhanced sensitivity to the threatening situation and potential danger, players ignored the character screams and went for the exit. In those players who helped the character, there was an engagement of the medial prefrontal and temporo-parietal cortices,

    Perhaps this just shows the difference between types of people that compete vs. cooperate or selfish vs. selfless. Personally, I hope that if I'm ever in a situation like that for real, I'm the latter type of person.

  • The Thai government taught me, years ago, that sometimes it is better to lose than to win, because you do not want to become what you would have to be in order to win. In that case the choice was to let the militants go free or to slaughter them. The Thai government, wisely, let them go.

    In amother case the Lao government invaded Thailand and occupied a refugee camp where the refugees from Laos were staging attacks into Laos. The camp was on the top of a hill. The Thai border police surrounded the bottom

    • "Is it better to out-monster the monster or to be quietly devoured?"
      Might want to look up slave morality though. Those who refuse to eat monsters just make them well fed. Would I want to be "friends" with people that expect me to dive under the bus when useful to them? Reciprocity rarely exists in reality, mostly just the pretense wrapped in sophistry, and it's assumption is of no utility when you lose more than you gain.

      Mostly I leave people the fuck alone and wish they neutrally fucked off. Even the wel
      • You are good; he is a monster. In order to devour him you must become a greater monster than he is. After you have consumed him, the world still has one monster in it (you), but it is a bigger monster than the one it had previously. And now, as a monster, you are hungry, and we must play the game all over again. Who will step forward to become a triple-sized monster to devour you?

        Share everything you do with the NSA - they are monster killers.

        • There is no good. There is only power. Initiation of force is the issue, but political bullshit already loaded that. Monsters ironically were originally juxtaposed with heroes primarily in that heroes were prettier to humans. Most were overprivileged douche-nozzles as many monsters were just hermits from an older world that occasionally got in the way of some king or mob's plans. Why submit yourself to psychotic abusers, if you have any other choice? You're not a better person for being their pretentious sl
  • in one game (mmo) I played you had a quest to release 4 prisoners from this evil guy, there were 5 prison cells though. Its one of those quest you would repeat every 3 days or so when it came off cooldown. Everytime I would release that last prisoner even though it had no actual purpose in completing the quest. It made me ponder about empathy. I asked if anyone else does this and got a mixed response of answers. Some did, some didn't. *note: numbers might be a little off but story is true

The cost of feathers has risen, even down is up!

Working...