Funding Details

16-31457A

April 30, 2016

December 31, 2019

Czech Ministry of Health

Fotis Liarokapis

Functional neurological symptoms (FNS) are somatic symptoms that still
remain poorly understood. Their diagnosis is made by exclusion of
organic cause and therefore does not provide any specific cues for the
subsequent treatment. Virtual reality (VR) seems to be mature enough to
be experimentally tested as a potential therapeutic intervention for the
functional neurological disorders. Biofeedback is the process of gaining
greater awareness of many physiological functions primarily using
instruments that provide information on the activity of those same
systems, with a goal of being able to manipulate them at will. Some of
the processes that can be controlled include brainwaves, muscle tone,
skin conductance, heart rate and pain perception. This project will
evaluate immersive virtual reality as a potential therapeutic tool for a
treatment of functional neurological symptoms. The first part of the
project will examine the effects of immersive virtual reality
intervention on changes in autonomic arousal in FNS (in both healthy
subjects and patients) by introducing emotional stress. The effect of
immersion manipulation on changes in emotional reactivity to stress
inducing stimuli is assessed by measuring skin conductance and heart
rate variability. The second part of the project will examine how
biofeedback affects immersive virtual reality intervention on effective
connectivity patterns in patients with FNS.