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As another year winds to a close, it is a holiday tradition to look back on the last 12 months and take stock. ‘Tis the season of “top 10” lists, “best of” articles, and “year in review” segments in the media. So, not to be left out, we here at BIOPAC have been assessing 2023 from our own unique vantage point. We have put together a brief list of some of our favorite research studies from the year that relied on BIOPAC products to gather and analyze data. We have nervous passengers in driverless cars, killer clowns, and individuals giving us conspicuous side-eye, all for your reading pleasure.

Backseat Drivers

While the advent of self-driving vehicles offers considerable potential for increasing the convenience of transportation and travel, this developing technology is not without controversy. Both passengers and those who would potentially share the road with autonomous vehicles worry about safety issues. A recent study funded by the French National Research Agency examined how passengers in self-driving vehicles reacted when navigating shared-space areas with large concentrations of pedestrians. The study defined shared spaces as “areas where all forms of segregation between pedestrians and vehicles (e.g., road markings, traffic signals, signs, curbs, and barriers) are minimized or eliminated.” Study participants were seated in front of a computer-based driving simulator. EDA data was gathered via a BioNomadix wireless  EDA transmitter and amplifier connected to a BIOPAC data acquisition and analysis system. Data was gathered across a variety of variables including changes in vehicle speed, concentrations of pedestrians, and proximity. Among the study’s conclusions was the suggestion that cognitive processes involved in collision risk assessments may lead to physiological adaptations that allow passengers to cope with stress related to vehicle-pedestrian interactions in shared spaces.

Send in the (Demonic) Clowns

VR HMDAnother study that caught our attention in 2023 examined how stressors created in a virtual reality (VR) environment are manifested in measurable physiological stress reactions. VR has seen a growth of applications beyond entertainment in recent years. It is being used for a wide range of applications such as training in simulated environments where it is necessary to create stressful conditions that mimic real-world experiences. A team of German researchers examined a variety of physiological signals, including electroencephalography (EEG), electrodermal activity (EDA), and peripheral skin temperature (ST) to determine which are most reliable for accurately measuring the stress levels of participants while they experienced cinematic horror scenarios in a VR environment. Study participants wore a VR headset that displayed four-minute episodic horror movies featuring demonic clowns. EEG data was gathered with an SS2L electrode lead set and general-purpose electrodes connected to the left temporal lobe. ECG recording was conducted with a second lead using an SS2L electrode lead set. The research team used an SS3LA EDA transducer to collect EDA data. All data was fed to an MP36 system running Biopac Student Lab (BSL) software. The study successfully demonstrated that stress can be triggered in VR and leads to a physiological and measurable stress reaction.

Are You Looking at Me?

The third study that sparked our interest in 2023 looked at how individuals react to the gaze of another person. A team of researchers from Finland and China used facial electromyography (EMG), skin conductance response (SCR), and heart rate (HR) to measure affective and attentional responses to faces with a direct and averted gaze. The study sought to measure both vicarious responses to watching two individuals who were looking at each other as well as individuals looking directly at the participant. SCR was recorded using a BIOPAC EDA100C amplifier connected to an MP data acquisition system. The participant’s facial muscle activity was measured and amplified with an EMG100C amplifier. The electrocardiogram (ECG) signal was measured with electrodes placed on the left and right inner forearm and amplified with an ECG100C amplifier. While the study did not find significant vicarious eye contact response, it did measure considerable affective response from direct gaze from one or more individuals. The study’s results could provide a better understanding of the role physiology plays in non-verbal communication between individuals and groups.

This is just a small sampling of the many studies that relied on BIOPAC equipment to gather and analyze data in 2023. For more ideas on how BIOPAC is leading the way in physiology, psychophysiology, neurology, and other areas of research, check out our webinars or watch one of our many online training videos. See you in 2024!

Start 2024 right by leveraging BIOPAC products in your next research study. Reach out to your regional sales representative to learn more.

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