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Psychologist to speak on virtual reality research

- March 16, 2009


Albert “Skip” Rizzo, the inventor of Virtual Iraq, will deliver a talk about the future of virtual reality research and its clinical applications on Thursday, March 26 at 12:30 p.m.

His presentation, “Clinical Virtual Reality: A Brief Review of the Future,” is sponsored by UConn’s Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) and will be held in CHIP’s second floor video conference room (Ryan Refectory, Room 204).

A brief tour and demonstration of CHIP’s new Virtual Reality Lab, which ultimately will be available for use by UConn researchers from across the University, will immediately follow Rizzo’s talk.

Rizzo, a clinical psychologist and Hartford-area native, is the director of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies, which has partnered with the gaming industry and Hollywood to harness the power of interactive, virtual environments for education, training, and healthcare. Rizzo is also a research professor in psychiatry at the University of Southern California.

Virtual Iraq, which borrows elements from the Xbox game Full Spectrum Warrior, is a form of exposure or immersion therapy that allows soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder to work through combat stress in a computer-simulated environment. The U.S. Department of Defense is now testing Virtual Iraq in six locations nationwide.

Rizzo began work on Virtual Iraq shortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. Previously, he had been designing virtual reality systems to help diagnose attention deficit problems in children and memory problems in older adults.

His other projects have included virtual reality games to assist with physical rehabilitation after stroke or traumatic brain injury.

He is currently working with a team that is creating virtual patients with artificial intelligence that clinicians can use to practice the skills required for challenging circumstances, such as sexual assault.

Please RSVP for the talk to C. Stacey Leeds at 860-486-1062 or c.stacey.leeds@uconn.edu by Monday, March 23.


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