PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Virtual reality simulations can help autistic people complete real-world tasks, MU study finds

MU researcher uses artificial intelligence to determine how autistic people experience their environment.

Virtual reality simulations can help autistic people complete real-world tasks, MU study finds
2023-12-08
(Press-News.org) COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Many people associate virtual reality headsets with interactive video games, but a researcher at the University of Missouri is using them for something far more important — helping autistic people navigate public transportation on college campuses.

MU researcher Noah Glaser — in collaboration with Matthew Schmidt, an associate professor at the University of Georgia, and others — partnered with a program at the University of Cincinnati on a pair of studies geared toward providing autistic people virtual training opportunities to practice using a public bus to get around town.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), the research team found that autistic people often experience their environment differently than their neurotypical peers, and that their attention and gaze patterns are often diverted due to sensory processing challenges in overstimulating environments. These findings pave the way for future research exploring how virtual reality simulations can help autistic individuals increase their self-confidence and community engagement by providing a safe space to practice various tasks.

“There is an abundance of autism-related research in the medical industry, but we want to show how interventions beyond medicine can help autistic people feel more comfortable in society,” said Glaser, an assistant professor in the MU College of Education and Human Development.

Practice makes perfect

One study examined how a group of young autistic adults navigated an on-campus bus system.

To gather data, Glaser and team created a virtual reality simulation that’s an exact replica of a university’s campus and shuttle system. They used an AI technique known as “computer vision” — or the ability for computers to detect objects and make informed decisions — to analyze how participants wearing the virtual reality headset attended to physical objects along their virtual journey across campus to the bus stop. They then compared that data to neurotypical users to see what differences might exist.

“We know that neurodiverse individuals often have sensory processing challenges, and certain environments — like going to a bus stop on a busy college campus — can be overstimulating and anxiety-inducing,” Glaser said. “If we can identify which objects were most distracting to neurodiverse learners along their journey and what objects were being attended to the most, we can manipulate or reduce that extra stimuli in a safe, controlled environment before participants attempt that activity in the real world.”

Part of the virtual simulation involved an instructor modelling the skills the participants would eventually perform in real life on a guided tour to the virtual bus stop.

“This project helps us better understand the nature of human-computer interaction from a group of users who typically are left out of those conversations,” Glaser said. “We need more research with neurodiverse individuals to better understand how they interact with virtual reality learning environments so we can adapt the interventions to become more accessible.”

Applications going forward

Glaser said this research is just the tip of the iceberg into examining how AI and virtual reality simulators can help special education professionals, intervention specialists and instructional designers support neurodiverse individuals.

“Going forward, we can use these tools to help provide training opportunities for neurodiverse learners who are interested in cybersecurity and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields,” Glaser said. “These are industries that have historically been severely underrepresented in people with disabilities and neurodiverse individuals.”

Glaser said he hopes his efforts can help translate the skills neurodiverse learners adapt virtually into the real world, which will improve both their own self-confidence and their contributions to society at-large.

 “This work can spark more opportunities for promoting inclusive learning environments and better understanding of how neurodiverse individuals use and interact with technology,” Glaser said. “When learning interventions are being developed, it is important we include neurodiverse individuals as part of the design process.”

“Through the lens of artificial intelligence: A novel study of spherical video-based virtual reality usage in autism and neurotypical participants,” and “Programming for generalization: Confronting known challenges in the design of virtual reality interventions for autistic users” were published in Computers & Education: X Reality.

Editor's note:

Matthew Schmidt was the primary investigator on the research project.

-30-

END

[Attachments] See images for this press release:
Virtual reality simulations can help autistic people complete real-world tasks, MU study finds

ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

First hints of nuclear fission in cosmos revealed by models, observations

First hints of nuclear fission in cosmos revealed by models, observations
2023-12-08
LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Dec. 7, 2023 — The elements above iron on the periodic table are thought to be created in cataclysmic explosions like the merger of two neutron stars or in rare classes of supernovae. New research suggests fission may operate in the cosmos during the creation of the heavy elements. Combing through data on a variety of elements that reside in very old stars, researchers have found a potential signature of fission, indicating that nature is likely to produce superheavy nuclei beyond the heaviest elements on the periodic table. “People have thought fission was happening in the cosmos, but ...

UTA to train interdisciplinary researchers in mathematics for human health

UTA to train interdisciplinary researchers in mathematics for human health
2023-12-08
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded The University of Texas at Arlington a $1.1 million grant to train and mentor three multi-level cohorts of interdisciplinary researchers in mathematical and computational techniques to address questions in cancer biology, computational neurology and vector-borne diseases. Led by Hristo Kojouharov, principal investigator and professor of mathematics, the research team plans to recruit and mentor nine undergraduate students, six doctoral students and two postdoctoral researchers. Joining ...

Reimagining the urban jungle: Young Faculty Award supports Zhou’s eco-minded plan

2023-12-08
The entire country faced record high temperatures in the summer of 2023, along with record numbers of heat-related illnesses. But towering above rural and suburban records were the urban heat islands—bubbles of heat that surround cities, increasing the experienced temperature by up to five degrees Celsius (eight degrees Fahrenheit). “Urbanization drastically changes the landscape,” said Associate Professor Nick Zhou, a materials scientist specializing in sustainable building systems. “Most urban land is covered ...

Vocal Fry: A sonic feature of a diverse city #Acoustics23

Vocal Fry: A sonic feature of a diverse city #Acoustics23
2023-12-08
SYDNEY, Dec. 8, 2023 – Vocal fry has a bad reputation in American English. A subtype of creaky voice, a feature of speech that sounds gravelly and pulselike, this manner of speech is sometimes used to form judgment about the speaker. In many languages, the creaky tone changes the meaning of words, exhibited in Lango spoken in South Sudan or Jalapa Mazatec spoken in Mexico. Hannah White and her Department of Linguistics colleagues at Macquarie University researched how creaky voice is reflected in Australian English used in Sydney, and what factors influence its prevalence. She will present ...

Automated system teaches users when to collaborate with an AI assistant

2023-12-07
Artificial intelligence models that pick out patterns in images can often do so better than human eyes — but not always. If a radiologist is using an AI model to help her determine whether a patient’s X-rays show signs of pneumonia, when should she trust the model’s advice and when should she ignore it?  A customized onboarding process could help this radiologist answer that question, according to researchers at MIT and the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. They designed a system that teaches a user when to collaborate with an AI assistant. In ...

CCNY team develops pioneering indoor navigation system

2023-12-07
In a major stride toward revolutionizing indoor navigation, a City College of New York-led team has developed groundbreaking technology that could chart real-time paths, delivering users—both sighted and low vision—a seamless and accurate indoor navigation experience complete with turn-by-turn guidance. The invention has earned a U.S. patent  titled "System and Method for Real-time Indoor Navigation." The innovation is the brainchild of the City College-based CUNY Computational Vision and Convergence Laboratory (CCVCL) headed by Zhigang ...

SLAC brings rapid-fire laser and target expertise to national fusion energy research hubs

SLAC brings rapid-fire laser and target expertise to national fusion energy research hubs
2023-12-07
The U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University will partner with Colorado State University (CSU), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and other institutions in the creation of two inertial fusion science and technology hubs that were announced today by the DOE.  Following on last year’s fusion ignition breakthrough at LLNL’s National Ignition Facility, the hubs aim to accelerate foundational inertial fusion research and technology development toward a potential clean and abundant energy source. In total, $42 million was awarded to collaborations between universities, ...

Cooling down the hot takes on Twitch 

2023-12-07
Twitch. Some see it as a fun online community of gamers and good-natured e-sports fandom. For others, it’s a perilous stream of potentially toxic content and hate speech.   In the ever-evolving landscape of digital communication, the real-time nature of messages on live-stream platforms like Twitch and YouTube Live brings with it unique challenges for content moderation. At present, effective tools for moderating content in live streams are lacking because existing models have been trained on non-real-time social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Research Assistant Dong-Ho Lee and Principal Scientist Jay Pujara, ...

Study: How farmers decide to store or sell their grain

Study: How farmers decide to store or sell their grain
2023-12-07
URBANA, Ill. – When farmers harvest their grain, they can choose to sell it right away or store it to obtain better prices later in the season. A new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign explores how Illinois corn and soybean producers make those decisions and why the cost-benefit evaluation of storage may differ across farms. Agricultural commodity prices fluctuate in response to changes in supply and demand, which depends on the stockpile of grain inventories around the country — but economists don’t really don't know how farmers decide to sell versus store their grain. “Economic theory provides guidance that Extension ...

Black patients less likely to get referral for home health care after hospital stay

2023-12-07
    When discharging Black patients from the hospital, nurses are less likely to refer them to home health care than white patients, a new University of Michigan study found.   About 22% of Black patients are referred by discharge nurses to home health care compared to 27% of white patients.    The study found that despite a higher likelihood that Black patients were unmarried, lived alone and had more chronic conditions—all risk factors for hospital readmission—they were routinely rated equally ready for hospital discharge as white patients, and ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

Nanoscale topcoat can turbocharge supported gold nanoparticle catalysts

Beyond the ink: Painting with physics

Only 9 percent of older Americans were vaccinated against RSV before the disease hit this fall and winter

Evolution-capable AI promotes green hydrogen production using more abundant chemical elements

In wake of powerful cyclone, remarkable recovery of Pacific island’s forests

PSU study sheds light on 2020 extreme weather event that brought fires and snow to western US

Rice physicist earns NSF CAREER Award to revolutionize quantum technology

Mining the treasures locked away in produced water

Minoritized groups face high anxiety when taking part in research experiments

Orcas demonstrating they no longer need to hunt in packs to take down the great white shark

Scientists discover a novel vehicle for antibiotic resistance

Large-scale study explores link between smoking and DNA changes across six racial and ethnic groups

EU funding for outstanding early-career researcher Pieter Gunnink

Associate Professor Ron Korstanje, Ph.D., of The Jackson Laboratory named Evnin Family Chair

Researchers create coating solution for safer food storage

An overgrowth of nerve cells appears to cause lingering symptoms after recurrent UTIs

New findings on the immune system

Most smokers in England wrongly believe vaping is at least as harmful as smoking

New antibodies target “dark side” of influenza virus protein

Fred Hutch announces 2024 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award recipients

New academic journal on artificial intelligence launched

UMaine researchers use GPS-tracked icebergs in novel study to improve climate models

A mental process that leads to putting off an unpleasant task

The role of history in how efficient color names evolve

AI outperforms humans in standardized tests of creative potential

Study results show 25% of pregnant people are not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from their diet or dietary supplements

Cleveland Clinic researchers uncover how virus causes cancer, point to potential treatment

SLU professor studies link between adversity, psychiatric and cognitive decline

Warwick to benefit from £2.5 million funding into “phenomenal” metamaterials

More schooling is linked to slowed aging and increased longevity

[Press-News.org] Virtual reality simulations can help autistic people complete real-world tasks, MU study finds
MU researcher uses artificial intelligence to determine how autistic people experience their environment.