Group6: Multidisciplinary investigation on how avatars and devices affect users

Latest Activity

Integrative biological analyses on how avatars and devices affect users (Shinpei KAWAOKA)

Our group aims to understand how the usage of online communication tools, robots, and avatars affects humans. For this purpose, we utilize multi-omics analyses, which thoroughly investigate the species and quantity of various molecules in the body simultaneously. We have established the experimental pipeline to measure metabolites, hormones, and immune gene expression in the blood. One of the strengths of omics analyses is that we do not necessarily have a hypothesis, for example, that molecule A may be responding to the use of avatars. We plan to perform multi-omics analyses before and after using online communication tools, robots, and avatars. We have already launched our studies that recruit participants in this challenging research. Our goals are to understand the effects of the usage of devices on human physiology and to apply our findings to establish better devices that are beneficial for users.

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A survey of biomarkers to assess the impact of avatars and devices on users (Yoshihiro IZUMI)

With the recent breakthrough in metabolomics technologies, application of metabolomics has been increasing in the medical field. Identification and semiquantitation of the compounds in the metabolome is defined as metabolic profiling, and it is applied to define metabolic changes related to genetic differences, environmental influences and disease or drug perturbations. Medical metabolomics are two major purposes for its use; the first is to acquire knowledge on the mechanisms of drug action or the disease itself, and another is biomarker detection and disease diagnosis. Our group has developed a novel high-sensitivity and absolute quantitative metabolomics methodology based on gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, and supercritical fluid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry. Advances in metabolic profiling offer comprehensive coverage of a metabolome as well as provide valuable insight towards understanding the different biochemical profiles of a biosystem. This project aims to discover novel biomarkers that can detect with high sensitivity, high speed, and high accuracy the effects on the organism (e.g., happiness, satisfaction, stress, fatigue, etc.) of the use of remote dialogue systems such as Zoom, conventional avatars such as games, and CA, through ultra-exhaustive measurements, including unknown metabolites.

Brain response analysis during the use of avatars and devices (Masahiko HARUNO)

We are conducting research to clarify the effects of the use of remote dialogue systems, robots, and avatars on the brain and behavior. The research also focuses on the brain functions required to effectively move many avatars simultaneously. Our main methodology is fMRI to measure brain activity. fMRI allows us to examine the overall impact of the use of robots and avatars on the brain. So far, we have set up a system to measure brain activity during decision making while interacting with an avatar in an MRI machine, along with eye gaze and other physiological data. Using this system, we found that humans are more likely to gamble when the observer is an avatar than when the observer is a human, and we are conducting experiments and analysis to identify the brain mechanisms behind this. By examining these changes in brain activity, it will be possible to determine the effects of avatar use on the brain and behavior. In the future, we will clarify brain responses to the use of various devices and avatars.

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Designing experimental systems for the investigation of biological responses to avatars and devices (Hidenobu SUMIOKA)

Collaborating with other projects, we are developing an environment for measuring biological states such as metabolites, hormones, brain activity, and other biological signals. Then we investigate the effects of both CA and conventional communication systems such as Zoom and traditional avatar systems such as video games on the human body. Based on the investigation, we aim to develop effective operation interfaces. We have conducted a comparative study of telecommunication and face-to-face communication, measured the operator's biometric signals while using CA, and estimated the operator's fatigue during CA operation. In the future, we will conduct biometric surveys of the CA and conventional avatar systems and develop an operation interface that reduces fatigue, aiming to develop a biologically friendly CA system.

Hormonal responses to avatars and devices: towards the formulation of health standards for users (Aya NAKAE)

I have been working on scientific analysis of human emotions. In particular, as an anesthesiologist and pain specialist, I have been engaged in research on pain mechanisms and am currently trying to visualize pain in order to create a globally standardized pain scale. We conducted this project together with PaMeLa Inc, Osaka University, and University of Fukui, and were able to confirm the usefulness of the algorithm in a physician-initiated clinical trial in the field in 2021. We have taken various approaches to the science of pain, the most unpleasant emotion, as well as to pleasant emotions, aiming at their objective evaluation, together with robot specialists. In an attempt using a hugging pillow called Hugvie, we were able to show that the stress hormone cortisol secretion was more suppressed when Hugvie was used by healthy volunteers. We are approaching the study of how hormones other than cortisol act, how they cause changes in the body, and how they work in the direction of maintaining homeostasis with various research designs. We are conducting a series of clinical studies to determine what hormonal fluctuations within the normal range can mean to our body. We will continue to conduct research through the use of avatars that will help researchers in manufacturing to understand what kind of avatars that are friendly to people and how they need paying attention to create their products not to be harmful to the human body.