Virtual Reality for Neuroarchitecture: Cue Reactivity in Built Spaces
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AutorChiamulera, Cristiano; Ferrandi, Elisa; Benvegnù, Giulia; Ferraro, Stefano; Tommasi, Francesco; Maris, Bogdan; Zondonai, Thomas; Bosi, Sandra
Cue reactivitySettingContextDrug addictionInterior designArchitectureNeuroarchitectureVirtual reality
Chiamulera, C.; et al. Virtual Reality for Neuroarchitecture: Cue Reactivity in Built Spaces. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 185 (2017). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/45189]
PatrocinadorThe “5per mille 2012” research grant by the Italian Cancer League (Lega Italiana Lotta per i Tumori, LILT) supported the study (PI: CC) and research grant for GB. LILT also supported CC and SF with educational grants.
Domestic and urban environments are associated to our life experiences and behaviors. These environments may acquire an emotional and motivational value and, in turn, shape our behaviors. Although there is a well-established knowledge of the effects of built space features on perception, feelings, and affective responses (Ulrich, 1991), only a limited attention has been however paid to physical space-induced motivated behaviors. There is still a strong attitude to consider the control of motivated behaviors as a matter of individual desires, free will, moral choices, executive control, etc.—and not as the interaction between environment and personality, genetics, and brain mechanisms. Recently, there has been a convergent agreement from architects, designers, psychologists, and neuroscientists about the multifactorial nature of the reciprocal interaction between humans and built space, and how it could impact on well-being psychological distress and risky behaviors (Sternberg, 2009). The emerging interdisciplinary field of “neuroarchitecture” developed conceptual paradigms and empirical frameworks based on the interaction between brain and built spaces (see Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture; www.anfarch.org). Within this framework, we would like to propose the “Cue Reactivity” phenomenon as a paradigmatic example of such as interaction. Cue reactivity (C-R) is the adaptive response to salient information in the environment (Niaura et al., 1988). Salient information is that associated to drugs, sex, palatable food, and to a variety of natural and non-natural rewards (such as gambling, shopping, etc.). Drug C-R manifests itself as an array of responses to stimuli previously associated to drug effect. The detrimental consequence of C-R is relapse to drug-seeking and drug-taking (Rohsenow et al., 1991). On the other hand, C-R is an evolutionary phenotype of the interaction with the environment: in fact, spatial context rich of reward-related cues may stimulate both positive and risky motivated behaviors. In this Opinion paper, we will show that identification and design of specific physical space features may affect mental health, and that indoor and furniture of drinking venues are associated to alcohol use. Based on what we know about C-R, and on the effects of built spaces on psychological and behavioral processes, we think that more research is now possible to plan and design research-based “C-R-free situations.” For instance, investigations on outdoor and indoor features associated to C-R may help to develop “motivational safer built environments.” The complexity of real world investigations is not however easily modeled in the laboratory, but technologies like virtual reality may offer the possibility to increase subject's presence in a spatial context simulation and, in the meantime, the control of the experimental parameters (García-Rodríguez et al., 2012). For these reasons, we propose virtual reality as a methodological approach in-between naturalistic and experimental lab setting for a better understanding of built space features affecting C-R.