Regenerative Virtual Therapy: The Use of Multisensory Technologies and Mindful Attention for Updating the Altered Representations of the Bodily Self

Giuseppe Riva, Silvia Serino, Daniele Di Lernia, Francesco Pagnini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The term “regenerative medicine” (RM) indicates an emerging trend in biomedical sciences that aims at replacing, engineering, or regenerating human cells, tissues, or organs to restore or establish normal function. So far, the focus of RM has been the physical body. Neuroscience, however, is now suggesting that mental disorders can be broadly characterized by a dysfunction in the way the brain computes and integrates the representations of the inner and outer body across time [bodily self-consciousness (BSC)]. In this perspective, we proposed a new kind of clinical intervention, i.e., “Regenerative Virtual Therapy” (RVT), which integrates knowledge from different disciplines, from neuroscience to computational psychiatry, to regenerate a distorted or faulty BSC. The main goal of RVT was to use technology-based somatic modification techniques to restructure the maladaptive bodily representations behind a pathological condition. Specifically, starting from a Bayesian model of our BSC (i.e., body matrix), we suggested the use of mindful attention, cognitive reappraisal, and brain stimulation techniques merged with high-rewarding and novel synthetic multisensory bodily experience (i.e., a virtual reality full-body illusion in sync with a low predictabIlity interoceptive modulation) to rewrite a faulty experience of the body and to regenerate the wellbeing of an individual. The use of RVT will also offer an unprecedented experimental overview of the dynamics of our bodily representations, allowing the reverse-engineering of their functioning for hacking them using advanced technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number749268
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 3 2021

Keywords

  • Bayesian surprise maximization
  • bodily full-body illusions
  • brain stimulation
  • embodiment (and its derivatives)
  • interoceptive technology
  • mindfulness
  • multisensory integration
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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