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Control Stress Project

Description : Research project about Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Team / Agency : ISM, UMR 7287, Mestre Daniel DR2 CNRS Coordinator /RV
INT, UMR 7289, Khalfa Stéphanie CR1/CNRS Medical Imagery
Clersé, UMR 8019, Sainaulieu Ivan PR2 Université Lille1 Sociological approach
LPL, UMR 7309, Bastien-Toniazzo Mireille PR2 Aix-Marseille Université Cognitive assessment
STMS UMR 9912, Viaud-Delmon Isabelle DR2 CNRS Cybertherapy
Hôpital Ste Marguerite, Malbos Eric PH / APHM Cybertherapy

Principal author : Mestre Daniel

Year : 2013-2015

Responding to stress is a survival adaptive behavior. It involves feedback loops between hypothalamus, hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex in the human central nervous system. In pathological cases, amygdala is hyperactive; fear dominates the regulation of behavior. The expression of fear can be reduced if the subject has learned how to control it, by the inhibitory action of the frontal cortex on subcortical areas. In this context, Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) can be used.

The first objective of this clinical research project is to improve the efficacy of VRET, by giving a patient control over his/her level of exposure to a fearful virtual environment. We will focus here on acrophobia (fear of heights). A second objective is to analyze, before and after VRET, the activity of cortical structures, in relation with the improvement of symptoms (using fMRI, PET scan along with cognitive evaluations). A third objective is to evaluate the acceptability of VRET among clinical pratricians and the patients themselves.


This project is funded by the interdisciplinarity mission of CNRS (ITMM).