Computer therapy

Published: Friday 30 June 1995

The versatile computer has found a pew role - that of a therapist. In a study at Georgia Tech, psychologists have used virtual reality to treat a group of 10 people suffering from acrophobia - an irrational fear of heights (Science, Vol 268, No 5208).

The patients were exposed to computer constructed views of elevators and bridges projected inside the visor of a special helmet that the subjects were asked to wear. The display could be manipulated with head or hand movements giving the subjects some amount of control. After 7 weekly sessions, the anxiety levels of these patients dropped drastically compared to a control sample of 7 patients.

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