Video1_Journey through a virtual tunnel: Simulated motion and its effects on the experience of time.MP4 (7.98 MB)
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Video1_Journey through a virtual tunnel: Simulated motion and its effects on the experience of time.MP4

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posted on 2023-01-11, 11:53 authored by Maximilian Landeck, Federico Alvarez Igarzábal, Fabian Unruh, Hannah Habenicht, Shiva Khoshnoud, Marc Wittmann, Jean-Luc Lugrin, Marc Erich Latoschik

This paper examines the relationship between time and motion perception in virtual environments. Previous work has shown that the perception of motion can affect the perception of time. We developed a virtual environment that simulates motion in a tunnel and measured its effects on the estimation of the duration of time, the speed at which perceived time passes, and the illusion of self-motion, also known as vection. When large areas of the visual field move in the same direction, vection can occur; observers often perceive this as self-motion rather than motion of the environment. To generate different levels of vection and investigate its effects on time perception, we developed an abstract procedural tunnel generator. The generator can simulate different speeds and densities of tunnel sections (visibly distinguishable sections that form the virtual tunnel), as well as the degree of embodiment of the user avatar (with or without virtual hands). We exposed participants to various tunnel simulations with different durations, speeds, and densities in a remote desktop and a virtual reality (VR) laboratory study. Time passed subjectively faster under high-speed and high-density conditions in both studies. The experience of self-motion was also stronger under high-speed and high-density conditions. Both studies revealed a significant correlation between the perceived passage of time and perceived self-motion. Subjects in the virtual reality study reported a stronger self-motion experience, a faster perceived passage of time, and shorter time estimates than subjects in the desktop study. Our results suggest that a virtual tunnel simulation can manipulate time perception in virtual reality. We will explore these results for the development of virtual reality applications for therapeutic approaches in our future work. This could be particularly useful in treating disorders like depression, autism, and schizophrenia, which are known to be associated with distortions in time perception. For example, the tunnel could be therapeutically applied by resetting patients’ time perceptions by exposing them to the tunnel under different conditions, such as increasing or decreasing perceived time.