Embodied virtual reality for the study of real-world motor learning

Shlomi Haar, Guhan Sundar, A. Aldo Faisal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Motor-learning literature focuses on simple laboratory-tasks due to their controlled manner and the ease to apply manipulations to induce learning and adaptation. Recently, we introduced a billiards paradigm and demonstrated the feasibility of real-world-neuroscience using wearables for naturalistic full-body motion-tracking and mobile-brain-imaging. Here we developed an embodied virtual-reality (VR) environment to our real-world billiards paradigm, which allows to control the visual feedback for this complex real-world task, while maintaining sense of embodiment. The setup was validated by comparing real-world ball trajectories with the trajectories of the virtual balls, calculated by the physics engine. We then ran our short-term motor learning protocol in the embodied VR. Subjects played billiard shots when they held the physical cue and hit a physical ball on the table while seeing it all in VR. We found comparable short-term motor learning trends in the embodied VR to those we previously reported in the physical real-world task. Embodied VR can be used for learning real-world tasks in a highly controlled environment which enables applying visual manipulations, common in laboratory-tasks and rehabilitation, to a real-world full-body task. Embodied VR enables to manipulate feedback and apply perturbations to isolate and assess interactions between specific motor-learning components, thus enabling addressing the current questions of motor-learning in real-world tasks. Such a setup can potentially be used for rehabilitation, where VR is gaining popularity but the transfer to the real-world is currently limited, presumably, due to the lack of embodiment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245717
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1 January
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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