At Stanford University’s Huberman Lab, an ongoing virtual reality experiment is offering significant insight into the influence of perception. As a consultant to the lab, Ryan Soave has had a front-row seat to the experiment’s findings on fear, stress, and trauma. In this presentation, Soave shares a look inside the experiment and what virtual reality is revealing about perception’s role in shaping our realities, beliefs, emotions, and behaviours.
In AA literature, Bill Wilson writes, “Nearly every serious emotional problem can be seen as a case of misdirected instinct. When that happens, our great natural assets, the instincts have turned into physical and mental liabilities.” Here, we see the intersection of trauma, dysfunction, and addiction.
The DSM-5’s description of “exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence” as Criteria A for diagnosis of PTSD supports the idea that both first-person experiences and associated perceptions can significantly affect trauma, fear, and the body’s reactions. In the presence of an actual threat, the body appropriately taps into its instincts and initiates a trauma response. But what happens when the threat is merely perceived?
The Huberman Lab’s current research utilises virtual reality to examine the perceptions beneath the dysfunction. For 90 minutes, Soave discusses how misperceived threat causes misdirected action and how a better understanding of this concept leads to clinical best practices for sustainable healing from trauma of all kinds.
1. Discuss the role virtual reality is playing to understand trauma, stress, and fear.
2. Understand how perception shapes and individual’s reality and the stress response.
3. Understand the impact of perception has in decision making related to the addiction cycle.
4. Discuss clinical practices to build capacity in the parasympathetic nervous system to support decision making in the stress response.