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The Immersive Space

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (2020)

Recent studies suggest the built environment and habitual elements can impact human psychology and cognition. Despite supporting evidence, there are still modeling challenges to identify which design elements might impact the cognitive domain's axes and how they shape brain and behavior dynamics. We propose a new configurable immersive space integrated with a brain-computer interface (BCI) platform to systematically study possible associations across the brain, behavior, and architectural elements to address these challenges. 

The immersive space is an interactive research installation equipped with servo motors, flexible semi-transparent fabric, tunable LED strip light, and immersive sound. Depending on the experiment design, space can be altered into different geometrical shapes with varying dimensions, color, texture, and sound. 

In one experiment, we utilized the platform to study how light intensity can affect subjects' cognitive attentiveness while solving puzzles with different difficulty levels. We recorded users' performance, such as completion times on each puzzle, along with neural and physiological activity in response to alteration of the light intensity from dim to bright. Preliminary results suggested that light intensity can influence cognitive attentiveness. 

We utilize these techniques to characterize the relationship between the attention and light intensity in the task, which can be used as part of a BCI system to adjust environment light intensity based on the human attention level. The same viewpoint can be utilized to characterize the impact of other architectural elements, such as dimension, color, and texture. By achieving this goal, we can build a systematic solution, where architectural elements can be embedded in the BCI platform to elevate human mental health and improve cognition.

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