Our Sense of Reality (SoR) is our ability to differentiate real from unreal experiences (i.e. hallucinations, delusions). Although malfunctions of SoR are common in neurological and psychiatric disorders, there is no current model for how SoR is constructed in the mind. In our recent study, published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, we proposed a novel approach for investigating SoR using virtual reality (VR). We used immersive VR to create parametric manipulations of visual reality. We measured both highly consistent and correlated perceptual sensitivity thresholds (JNDs) as well as consistent and correlated reductions in subjective reality ratings across different manipulations and levels. Our results validate our novel approach to the study of SoR. Furthermore, psychophysical thresholds denoting sensitivity to visual manipulations of the bodily self, were correlated with prodromal psychotic symptoms, suggesting a potential for this approach in clinical research of psychosis spectrum disorders.
Drori, G., Bar-Tal, P., Stern, Y., Zvilichovsky, Y., & Salomon, R. (2020). UnReal? Investigating the Sense of Reality and Psychotic Symptoms with Virtual Reality. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9(6), 1627.