In 2019, the Brain Jam expanded to invite researchers from fields beyond neuroscience. Topics teams tackled included teen anxiety, grief, physics education, teen anxiety, and mosquito control. 9 teams participated, working with with a variety of VR and XR platforms.
Sample 2019 Projects
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurogenerative disorder impacting 10M people. Patients with the disease have a ~5Hz tremor in their extremities making simple activities challenging. This team created a VR experience that allows patients to enter a new reality where they are asymptomatic, free of debilitating tremors by sampling tremor trajectory and canceling their velocity. The experience also can be flipped to give caregivers direct insight to the life of patients.
The End is intended to be a safe, educational XR experience for users experiencing grief as a result of bereavement, or loss of a loved one. Based on literature on grief and bereavement, this game’s primary goal is to aid users in the process of grief–by helping people work through different “stages” of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance–Kübler-Ross model) non-sequentially, or sparking a conversation between individuals experiencing grief, loved ones, and mental health experts.
The rapid increase in anxiety among teens requires innovations in intervention approaches, especially in schools where support for teens experiencing anxiety may be limited. There’s intriguing evidence that the use of ASMR might provide some of the physiological and affective benefits of mindfulness, and ASMR videos are a hugely popular genre on YouTube. This team paired developers with researchers from the Play4REAL Lab at Yale and the VR Health Institute to explore how VR-based ASMR stimuli might provide a new approach for on-demand interventions for adolescents experiencing anxiety.
Mosquitoes Vs Humans
MOSQUITOES VS. HUMANS is a multiplayer VR game that aims to highlights that mosquitoes are the most fatal animal in the world (killing almost a million people per year) and educate people on prevention methods that can save lives. The guest plays as either a NJ mosquito control commissioner whose job is to employ mosquito prevention measures and keep the citizens of New Jersey safe or a mosquito, hungry for mosquito commissioner blood.
Learning about the human brain is traditionally based on passive classroom instruction, 2D materials to convey 3D relationships, and a separation between structure and function. Here we leverage cooperative VR to provide an active experience in which a group of students learn to relay sensory signals (i.e. spikes) along the appropriate neural pathways. This experience leverages our inate ability for navigation-based learning and acitive exploration to enhance learning outcomes.