Martin Dobricki

Alumni of the Department Human Perception, Cognition & Action
Alumni of the Group Perception & Action in Virtual Environments

Main Focus

I co-lead the group together with Betty Mohler.

My main research interest is focused on the investigation of human multisensory body self-perception.

My research methodology is focused on the development of ecologically valid immersive Virtual Reality (iVR) setups for studying body self-perception. Additionally, I develop iVR setups for clinical research.

My current research includes:

- studies on the components of conscious body self-perception

- studies on optically induced bodily self-motion perception (vection)

- studies on the experience of sensorimotor control

- studies on the perception of the own face

My current methodological developments include:

- virtual reality setups for the study of body self-perception

- virtual reality setups for experimental psychopathology

- a psychophysical procedure to measure face self-perception

- a psychophysical procedure to measure body-environment discrimination

A. The structure of conscious body self-perception

What are the basic constituents of conscious body self-perception? This question concerns the structure of conscious body self-perception and has so far received little attention.

In order to investigate conscious full-body self-perception I use virtual reality technology to experimentally alter body self-perception. First, I induce the “embodiment” of a distant virtual body in healthy individuals. Second, I quantify this experience of a full-body illusion by means of psychometric self-assessment questionnaires.

The experimental setup: The experimenter strokes the physical back of a female participant
while she watches, on a head-mounted display, a virtual body from behind being simultaneously
stroked (side view) with a virtual stick. (image source: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083840.g001)

We have developed a state-of-the-art psychometric questionnaire for the measurement of body self-perception during full-body illusions. Using this questionnaire we have found that conscious body self-perception has the three components: bodily self-identification, spatial self-perception (spatial presence), and agency ().

B. Optically induced bodily self-motion perception (vection)

In order to investigate the perceptual mechansims that shape body self-perception I have designed a virtual reality setup in which I quantify changes in multisensory body self-perception by inducing and measuring vection. In order to induce for example circular vection I rotate the entire optical environment around the body of healthy individuals that are perceiving this in a head-mounted display.

We induce circular vection by rotating the entire optical environment around the physical
body of the observer. The white dot indicates the position of the observer. The white arrow
indicates the motion of the environment and the black arrow indicates the resulting exprience
of bodily self-rotation. Please download a movie of this procedure here: .

We have found that the experience of vection is changed when the components of conscious body self-perception described above are altered (Dobricki, Mohler & Buelthoff, in rev.).

C. Dynamic body self-perception

I have developed a virtual reality setup in which individuals can fully control a distant virtual body with their own physical body (Dobricki, in prep.). I am using this setup to investigate the perceptual mechanisms underlying the human experience of sensori-motor control.

D. Experimental Psychopathology

I develop Immersive Virtual Reality setups for psychiatric research that can be used to experimentally investigate the perceptual mechansims that are active when individuals suffer from psychopathological symptomes, e.g., when they suffer from stress-related mental disorders such as adjustment disorders (Dobricki, Komproe, de Jong & Maercker, 2010).

The purpose of the following virtual reality setup is to investigate the effect of stressfull life-events on perception, especially on multisensory body self-perception.

E. Psychophysical face self-perception

In order to investigate bodily self-perception I have developed a psychophysical procedure to measure the perception of one’s own face (Dobricki and Mohler, in prep.).

In the framework of this face perception task individuals are asked to judge facial stimuli that are based on a 3D laser scan of their own face.

Curriculum Vitae

Education

2008     Doctorate at the University of Zurich

2003     Master of Science at the University of Zurich

Academic positions

2012 -           Co-leader of the group at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

2011 - 2012    Postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

2009 - 2011    Research fellow at the research station Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART

2007 - 2008    , University of Zurich

2007 - 2008    , University of Zurich

2006 - 2006    , University of Zurich

2004 - 2008    PhD candidate at the Psychological Institute of the University of Zurich

Clinical positions

2006             Psychologist at the Medical Center Geissberg, Kloten

Teaching

2006 - 2008    Lecturer in experimental psychology and psychopathology, University of Zurich

Grants

2013 - 2014    Postdoc fellowship from the Max Planck Society

2011 - 2013    Postdoc fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation

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