Guest editorial: Introduction to the special issue on virtual reality environments in behavioral sciences

Giuseppe Riva, Brenda K. Wiederhold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Virtual reality (VR) is usually described in biology and in medicine as a collection of technologies that allow people to interact efficiently with three-dimensional (3-D) computerized databases in real time using their natural senses. This definition lacks any reference to head-mounted displays (HMDs) and instrumented clothing such as gloves or suits. In fact, less than 10% of VR healthcare applications in medicine are actually using any immersive equipment. However, if we focus our attention on behavioral sciences, where immersion is used by more than 50% of the applications, VR is described as an advanced form of human- computer interface that allows the user to interact with and become immersed in computer-generated environment. This difference outlines a different vision of VR shared by psychologists, psychotherapists, and neuropsychologists: VR provides a new human-computer interaction paradigm in which users are no longer simply external observers of images on a computer screen but are active participants within a computer-generated 3-D virtual world. This special issue investigates this vision, presenting some of the most interesting applications actually developed in the area. Moreover, it discusses the clinical principles, human factors, and technological issues associated with the use of VR in the behavioral sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-197
Number of pages5
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine
Issue number3 SPEC.
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2002


  • Behavioral sciences
  • Clinical psychology
  • Virtual reality (VR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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