Move your virtual body: differences and similarities in brain activation patterns during hand movements in real world and virtual reality

Silvia Kober*, Volker Settgast, Marlies Brunnhofer, Ursula Augsdörfer, Guilherme Wood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Virtual reality (VR) is a promising tool for neurological rehabilitation, especially for motor rehabilitation. In the present study, we investigate whether brain activation patterns that are evoked by active movements are comparable when these movements are carried out in reality and in VR. Therefore, 40 healthy adults (20 men, mean age 25.31 years) performed hand movements and viewed these movements in a first-person view in reality, a VR scene showing realistic virtual hands, and a VR scene showing abstract virtual hands, in a randomized order. The VR conditions were presented via an immersive 3D head-mounted display system. EEG activity was assessed over the hand motor areas during and after movement execution. All three conditions led to typical EEG activation patterns over the motor cortex. Hence, brain activation patterns were largely comparable between conditions. However, the VR conditions, especially the abstract VR condition, led to a weaker hemispheric lateralization effect compared to the real-world condition. This indicates that hand models in VR should be realistic to be able to evoke activation patterns in the motor cortex comparable to real-world scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVirtual Reality
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Oct 2021


  • Brain activity
  • Brain lateralization
  • Motor task
  • Presence
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

Cite this