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Game controller modification for fMRI hyperscanning experiments in a cooperative virtual reality environment


Hyperscanning, an emerging technique in which data from multiple interacting subjects' brains are simultaneously recorded, has become an increasingly popular way to address complex topics, such as "theory of mind." However, most previous fMRI hyperscanning experiments have been limited to abstract social interactions (e.g. phone conversations). Our new method utilizes a virtual reality (VR) environment used for military training, Virtual Battlespace 2 (VBS2), to create realistic avatar-avatar interactions and cooperative tasks. To control the virtual avatar, subjects use a MRI compatible Playstation 3 game controller, modified by removing all extraneous metal components and replacing any necessary ones with 3D printed plastic models. Control of both scanners' operation is initiated by a VBS2 plugin to sync scanner time to the known time within the VR environment. Our modifications include:•Modification of game controller to be MRI compatible.•Design of VBS2 virtual environment for cooperative interactions.•Syncing two MRI machines for simultaneous recording.

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