Does virtually reliving youth improve old people’s health?
The results of the European Research Council‘s (ERC) Proof of Concept grants, which fund projects by researchers who have been previously awarded ERC grants, have been published today. Mel Slater, a researcher at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Barcelona and member of the UB Institute of Neurosciences (UBneuro), has received funding of 150,000 euros to study whether virtual reality can improve the quality of life of older people by reproducing memories of youth.
Slater says that the project will consist of “providing older people with experiences of their youth using virtual reality”. “For example, they will be placed in a virtual replica of an apartment decorated in the style of the 1960s, and the television will show programs and advertisements from that era”, he notes. This, known as reminiscence therapy, has been shown to have positive benefits for older people. “We want to validate it with more immersive quality thanks to virtual reality,” he adds.
The aim is to study “the effectiveness of these techniques in improving the physical and cognitive functioning of older people”. “If the validity of reminiscence therapies is shown, we will be able to implement their application in civic centres and other similar community organisations”, Slater concludes.
The project also involves the UB researchers David Bartrés-Faz and Maria Mataró Serrat, members of the Faculty of Psychology and UBneuro. The Proof of Concept grant aims to help researchers explore the commercial and social potential of the results of their research projects, which can be translated into patents or business opportunities.