'Substitutional reality' system plays head games to explore delusions (w/ Video)

Aug 28, 2012 by Nancy Owano report
Substitutional Reality System. In the recording module (left), the panoramic view was recorded in advance by a panoramic camera, and stored in the data storage connected to the control computer. In the experience module (right), either a live scene captured by a head-mounted camera or recorded scenes cropped from a pre-recorded movie were shown on a head-mounted display (HMD). The cropped area presented in the recorded scenes was determined in real-time using head orientation information calculated from the HMD orientation sensor. Scene examples are shown here. In the recorded scene a person with a lab coat waved his hand, who was not present in the live scene. A participant believed the person with the lab coat was physically present there, when the covert switch from the live to the recorded scene was successfully performed. Image (c) Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 459 doi:10.1038/srep00459

(Phys.org)—Take a commercially available panoramic video camera used for recording, add a computer for storing recorded footage, and a head-mounted visual display that can switch seamlessly between the footage and a live feed captured by a camera and attached microphone. The result of all this is what Japanese researchers are using in their explorations of "substitutional reality," or SR. This is a purposeful new direction from virtual reality. The SR system delivers a "conviction" of being in the real world, which is absent in VR technologies.

The researchers discuss their work, tests, and implications in a paper titled "Substitutional Reality System: A Novel for Experiencing Alternative Reality," published by Scientific Reports.

Keisuke Suzuki, who is at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex and lead author, said that he and his research team from RIKEN in Japan came up with their SR system in order to explore cognitive mechanisms underlying people's convictions about reality. How can you trust what you perceive is real? The answer can be in an experimental platform that presents scenes that participants believe are completely real, but are really the result of content that is manipulated. A video shows how the researchers had their helmeted study participant looking at live scenes switched to past recorded scenes, presented alternately. The SR system was essentially manipulating the person's sense of reality by showing live scenes and recorded scenes (edited in advance) with the goal being to witness if, and to what extent, a participant fails to recognize there is a reality . Most of the subjects failed to distinguish between the live and recorded scenes in the experiment. "Seven of 10 participants could not detect that the given scene was recorded…The participant was not certain whether he was experiencing live or recorded scenes."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Video: Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 459 doi:10.1038/srep00459

The researchers who developed the system along with Suzuki are with the RIKEN Brain Science Institute's Laboratory for Adaptive Intelligence. They are Sohei Wakisaka and Naotaka Fujii. The Brain Science Institute was established in 1997 as part of RIKEN, which is an independent research institution supported by the Japanese government.

Of what use is the SR system and their research? The system is explained as of use to study cognitive dysfunction in psychiatric patients. People without such disorders can distinguish between real and imagined events using unconscious processes, but the processes break down in some psychiatric conditions. Schizophrenics may hear voices and see what is not there; some delusional patients suffer from perpetual false memories.

In wearing an "Inception" helmet, reality is manipulated to simulate experiences, and could be used to study cognitive dysfunction in psychiatric disorders.

"SR provides a unique opportunity to model these experiences in healthy subjects, which could be useful for investigating the underlying hallucinations and delusions," said Suzuki. The system may also offer an affordable way for scientists to explore these disorders.

Explore further: Government wants to make cars talk to each other (Update)

More information: Substitutional Reality System: A Novel Experimental Platform for Experiencing Alternative Reality, Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 459 doi:10.1038/srep00459

Abstract
We have developed a novel experimental platform, referred to as a substitutional reality (SR) system, for studying the conviction of the perception of live reality and related metacognitive functions. The SR system was designed to manipulate people's reality by allowing them to experience live scenes (in which they were physically present) and recorded scenes (which were recorded and edited in advance) in an alternating manner without noticing a reality gap. All of the naïve participants (n = 21) successfully believed that they had experienced live scenes when recorded scenes had been presented. Additional psychophysical experiments suggest the depth of visual objects does not affect the perceptual discriminability between scenes, and the scene switch during head movement enhance substitutional performance. The SR system, with its reality manipulation, is a novel and affordable method for studying metacognitive functions and psychiatric disorders.

Related Stories

Modeling how we see natural scenes

May 21, 2008

Sophisticated mathematical modeling methods and a “CatCam” that captures feline-centric video of a forest are two elements of a new effort to explain how the brain’s visual circuitry processes real scenes. The new model ...

3D graphics, reality fuse on the fly

Mar 04, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Software developed at Oxford University is making it possible to fuse real and 3D computer-generated visuals on the fly.

Recommended for you

Apple's freshly sliced shares climb

1 hour ago

Freshly split Apple shares closed at a high on Tuesday, with investors evidently betting the California company will debut popular new gadgets, perhaps a smart watch and an iPhone 6.

New type of solar concentrator desn't block the view

13 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through ...

User comments : 18

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JRDarby
1 / 5 (4) Aug 28, 2012
The real problems are not the hallucinations and delusions; the problem is the psychotic attitude so widely held in the West that distinguishes between "real" and "not real." I'm not saying that the hallucinations are sense perceptions of phenomena that objectively exist to those other than the experiencer, but the hallucinations are themselves real insofar as they are apperceived.

To the experiencer, the sensations exist despite the probability (one s/he may even recognize) that the sensations do not exist outside his/her brain. But can't this be said for all sensations in all persons?

The idea of "reality" is a trick. Implied in the idea is an assumption that an objective reality exists that can be perceived equally and similarly by all persons because it is the same for everyone. The answer to this is, of course, that no such "objective" reality exists.
JRDarby
1 / 5 (5) Aug 28, 2012
We all share in a collective bundle of hallucinations, delusions, and beliefs which we generally agree are acceptable (read: "real"). This is called a "consensus reality." Our consensus is the result of countless complex variables all interacting together: biological processes, historical processes, cultural processes, and the like--all of which you might choose to reduce under the umbrella of your favorite paradigm, be it materialist neuropsychology or the Hegelian dialectic or anything--all inform what we consider "valid" or "real."

Our belief that a God does/n't exist is the result of historical processes involving other biological organisms and their actions, cultural and biological influences on our own being, and a good deal of luck in merely encountering certain ideas that may confirm or criticize our existing belief.
JRDarby
1 / 5 (5) Aug 28, 2012
Dick famously remarked that "reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, ceases to exist." For schizophrenics, like those in this article that experience sensory hallucinations, sometimes this doesn't hold. I am not schizophrenic, but I have met and talked with many schizophrenics, and several have told me that they realize that the voices are "just in my head," but they still won't go away--does that make the hallucinations "real?"

Enough! Herein lies the problem. We are too quick to question the reality, or objective existence, of phenomena--and not quick enough. The problem is that we question only what does not fit our particular paradigm or schema for understand the world--we do not question what fits. It is highly likely that many propositions we take for granted are not "real," but merely the result of cognitive biases rooted in biology, or sociology, or anything. Does this mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater? Hell, no.

JRDarby
1 / 5 (3) Aug 28, 2012
I am inclined to agree with orthodox psychiatry (and most other people) that aliens are not beaming messages into my friends' heads. I am also inclined to agree that the sensory stimuli schizophrenics ap/perceive are, in fact, hallucinations (i.e. they may exist, but only for that experiencer). Yet many questions remain: foile a deux is just one of many controversial but documented phenomena that calls into question our current understanding of "reality."

The proper response to the "non-real," or that which does not fall within our socially-accepted schema, seems then to be compassion--for the experiencer, and for society. As we acknowledge that our own understanding is limited, and likely downright wrong in many aspects, we should restrain from browbeating those who disagree with us (like recalcitrant schizophrenics) into beliefs that mirrors our own. Tolerance goes both ways, and it may not be long before we find ourselves on the receiving end of an ontological assault.
JRDarby
1 / 5 (5) Aug 28, 2012
In the spirit of compassion, we should look for that which aids--not that which "corrects." In some cases, schizophrenic hallucinations and delusions and delusions can serve integrative, constructive purposes. For example, a friend of mine has turned his hallucinations into an opportunity to question everything--not to disbelieve, but to suspend belief pending investigation. T

his is a very healthy attitude for schizophrenics and non-schizophrenics alike to express. The abstract noted that all the participants successfully accepted live scenes as recorded--please note that these were "normal" people. This should show you exactly how blindly and without thinking or questioning we normally sleepwalk through life.

In short, I think that reality is stranger than we can even comprehend. I would love to see schizophrenics receive help functioning through this system, but I think the more interesting research will be on exploring "normal," consensus reality.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
The idea of "reality" is a trick. Implied in the idea is an assumption that an objective reality exists that can be perceived equally and similarly by all persons because it is the same for everyone. The answer to this is, of course, that no such "objective" reality exists.


Objective reality exists and we determine it through the widespread consensus of individual subjective experiences.

Ontological Nihilism hasn't been taken seriously for a long time...
Deathclock
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 28, 2012
Dick famously remarked that "reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, ceases to exist."


What the hell are you talking about, that's is not the quote, that is the exact opposite of what Phillip K. Dick stated...

The real quote:
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Stop being an idiot and misleading people with lies.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
It's a shame too, because a lot of what you said shows real insight and intelligence... too bad you tainted it with your nihilistic nonsense and intentional misquotations.
extinct
1 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
major brain functions for sleep, waking consciousness, etc. operate anywhere from roughly 3 Hz to 30 Hz. if you stimulate your brain at these frequencies with an external source like a variable strobe light (with eyes closed) or a Mindplace Proteus (same) or binaural beats, etc., you can potentially have an experience that would surpass anything written about in this lame brained virtual-reality/mind-control article.
i cannot be the only one who wonders why all TV displays, computer displays, lights, etc. are hard wired to 60Hz and other similar "standards". if our electronic appliances had a control for downwardly variable refresh rate, you could explore different states of consciousness on demand. what a surprise, then, (that was sarcasm) that we are disallowed from having easy access to that. just another drop in the bucket of tyranny that defines modern life. if you let it, that is... i'm not letting it.
JRDarby
1 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
Dick famously remarked that "reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, ceases to exist."


What the hell are you talking about, that's is not the quote, that is the exact opposite of what Phillip K. Dick stated...

The real quote:
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Stop being an idiot and misleading people with lies.


The fact that my quotation contained a MISTAKE (rather than a malicious modification) should have been obvious from the context. Why the vitriol?
Ensa
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 28, 2012
The observation that accepted 'reality' is subjective rather than objective is not ontological nihilism. It is an observation.
The assertion that reality is objective is just an assertion, however. Sometimes it is a useful assertion but to consider it anything other than simply an assertion just ignores how the idea was formed, in a dogmatic way reminiscent of the religious.
Most modern accepted and useful systems of, in science, modelling and in philosophy, framing, 'reality' accept that it is subjective.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
The observation that accepted 'reality' is subjective rather than objective is not ontological nihilism. It is an observation.
The assertion that reality is objective is just an assertion, however. Sometimes it is a useful assertion but to consider it anything other than simply an assertion just ignores how the idea was formed, in a dogmatic way reminiscent of the religious.
Most modern accepted and useful systems of, in science, modelling and in philosophy, framing, 'reality' accept that it is subjective.


No... our experience of reality is subjective, yes... but there exists an objective reality and we can determine this through the mutual consensus of subjective experiences thereof... as I already stated.

And yes, believing that there is no objective reality is ontological nihilism... that's the very definition of it.
Deathclock
1 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
The fact that my quotation contained a MISTAKE (rather than a malicious modification) should have been obvious from the context. Why the vitriol?


A mistake? You completely inverted the meaning of that quote... you stated it as the exact opposite of what Dick actually intended to say.

That's a hell of a mistake...
Smashin_Z_1885
3 / 5 (2) Aug 29, 2012
This is hilarious, and completely incorrect. I thought you were getting closer, but now have taken a step back with this ridiculous research. If you quantify a particular "reality" as the 'only' reality, then how do you expect to ever be true explorers, and actually advance scientific knowledge? I am wasting my time writing this, but here is a clue: a) everything is entangled. Yes, everything, all things, and all 'time' , photons, etc. the entire universe, the quantum reality is the 'real' reality, and that is just a fact, b) reality is the idea that a specific item, time, place, experience, or thought, actually exists as a clearly definable entity, and, contains verifiable information. , and c) unified reality IS reality. All of this, opens the door to accessible 'movement', if you will, between any and all 'realities', or, more correctly, 'avenues of experience', 'awareness constructs', or other similar definitions, all of which are now known well and useable.
Smashin_Z_1885
1 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2012
I should clarify that the wording "all of which are now known well and useable" does not imply any knowledge acquired as of the measured numeric value 2012. I apologize for this, but legal issues require this to be disclosed in any sort of communications conducted within the project parameters. Undo 2 t2 t3 (No. 30), or T4 white/grey [primary]
Anda
2 / 5 (4) Aug 29, 2012
Dick famously remarked that "reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, ceases to exist."


What the hell are you talking about, that's is not the quote, that is the exact opposite of what Phillip K. Dick stated...

The real quote:
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Stop being an idiot and misleading people with lies.


The fact that my quotation contained a MISTAKE (rather than a malicious modification) should have been obvious from the context. Why the vitriol?


Because it means the opposite u idiot.
I'm happy that when I die you and the world are over :)
Just products of my sick imagination...
Ensa
not rated yet Sep 02, 2012
No... our experience of reality is subjective, yes... but there exists an objective reality and we can determine this through the mutual consensus of subjective experiences thereof... as I already stated.

And yes, believing that there is no objective reality is ontological nihilism... that's the very definition of it.


I did not say that believing in no objective reality is not ontological nihilism. It is. I said:

Me:"The observation that accepted 'reality' is subjective rather than objective is not ontological nihilism. It is an observation."

And you also appeared to agree that the assertion of objective reality is simply an assertion, rather than an observation.
You: "we can determine this through the mutual consensus of subjective experiences..."

So - interesting anyway...
Why on earth did you frame your response as if you were disagreeing?

Anyway -
Ensa
5 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2012
Perhaps I mis-understand but it also appears that a poster seems to consider that a collection of enough consensual subjective experiences 'proves' that there is an objective reality.
It does not.
Whether or not there is an objective reality, it cannot be demonstrated by collecting subjective evidence. The difference, ontologically, between objective reality and subjective is qualitative, not quantitative.
In the same way as, for example, no matter how many dogs you collect, you will not make a flock of sheep, so no matter how many subjective experiences you collect you will not make an objective reality. Even if you keep collecting for ever.
Also, in order to consider different subjective observations 'the same' we need to discount a fair few differences. At the quantum level this becomes quite pronounced.
Not stating the case for or against objective reality, just my few thoughts on the subject...