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Science

Biofeedback Used To Make People Anxious 33

vrml (3027321) writes Biofeedback is well-known as a relaxation technique, but the HCI Lab of the University of Udine has tried to use it for the opposite purpose: making people anxious. The technique, described by a paper in the November 2014 issue of the Interacting with Computers journal, exploits heartbeat detection. While users navigated a 3D world, the computer detected and played their actual heartbeat (users were not told it was theirs) in the audio background of the virtual world. At a couple of times during the experience, the application artificially increased the frequency of the played heartbeat and then reverted it to the actual one after some seconds. The study described in the paper contrasts the technique with aversive stimuli frequently used in video games when the character gets hurt such as decreasing health bars or increasing the frequency of an heartbeat sound that is not related to the user's actual heartbeat. The biofeedback-based technique produced much larger (subjective as well as physiological) levels of user anxiety than those classic aversive stimuli.
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Biofeedback Used To Make People Anxious

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  • So it doesn't anymore?
    • You're just making a joke, but it would be quite interesting to see how our minds adapt and become used to this kind of manipulation.

      I mean the implication of the research is that you make an unconscious connection between your pulse and the game audio, and fiddling with that audio messes with that connection.

      But our brains have powerful feedback mechanisms for adapting when mental predictions fail(not powerful enough, what with confirmation bias and all) and long term, repeated exposure to this sort of thi

    • Yeah, but biofeedback also used to enjoy Mitch Hedberg.
  • Oh a sarcasm detector, there's a real useful invention!
  • Perhaps I'm missing the point, but hasn't a similar technique been used in horror movie soundtracks for decades to produce anxiety in viewers?

  • Dungeons of Daggorath [wikipedia.org], great-granddaddy of first-person monster fighting games, used a heartbeat as your health indicator. If you got hurt, the "ba-dump-ba-dump-ba-dump" sped up, if it got too fast you died. It certainly got my own heart racing in sympathy.

    • Oh, man, now there's a game I've not thought of in a long time.

      Run to the end of the corridor to try to catch your breath while fighting the wizard. Rhyme ring. Everything else is a little hazy.

      Good times there. Considering the puny platform it ran on, it was a pretty darned good game. Definitely logged lots of hours in that one.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    am I the only one with visions of CIA, FBI, local police or heaven help us TSA morons implementing this?

  • Makes me wonder if having all these heart rate monitors, and other sensors being added to consumer kit that is also connected to advertising networks is really such a good idea.
  • This of course has me thinking of the various emotional responses I have had to games, and I would love to see this sort of research done more to pin down various bits of how it works.

    Out of all the games I have played, many have producd achievment highs, a few have produced the occasional jumpy anxious vibe, but only one game series ever "got me" and did it consistently and that was Assasins Creed.

    Its funny because its not a FPS game, its rather unrealistic in so many ways but....there is something about j

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