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Keynote Lecture


Virtual Reality: Taking Performance to the Next Level

Cathy Craig
Ulster University and CEO/Co-founder INCISIV Ltd.
United Kingdom

Brief Bio
Cathy Craig is a professor of Experimental Psychology at Ulster University. Over the last 20 years she has been developing a brand of analytics to unlock the secrets of why we move, how we move and why sometimes we can’t. She was the first in the world to use virtual reality technology to control what the brain sees and measure how the brains responds. She has worked with elite athletes in many different sports (soccer, handball, cricket and rugby) but also children with autism, older adults and people with Parkinson’s.  She has a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, an Habilitation (HDR) from the University of Aix-Marseille, France and over 90 scientific publications. She was the recipient of a highly prestigious European Research Council (ERC) award in 2008.

In an attempt to get her research out of the lab so it could make a difference to people's lives, she co-founded INCISIV, a neuro-technology start-up in 2018. INCISIV has developed a platform that combines the power of immersive technologies and neural analytics to help people move better so they perform better. CleanSheet is INCISIV’s first product that measures and improves decision-making in soccer goalkeepers. It is currently being used by goalkeepers across Europe and is now being adapted for field hockey. Having been recently awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship, she is working closely with Scottish Rugby to bring their their next product to market to help diagnose and rehabilitate players suffering from sports-related concussion.

This talk will demonstrate how Virtual Reality (VR) can be used as a tool to understand and improve movement performance. The first part will show how rudimentary VR technology was used in the early 2000s to carefully control what the brain sees (perception), but also very accurately measure how the brain responds (action). The versatility of VR means it can be used to study human behaviour in many different sport and health applications. Examples from behavioural neuroscience will showcase how VR can help us understand decision-making in elite sport but also conditions such as freezing of gait in people with Parkinson’s disease.
The second part of the talk will highlight how the recent evolution of both VR hardware and software has opened exciting new possibilities to take research out of the lab so it can make a difference to people’s lives. Examples will demonstrate how VR applications that are commercially available can enhance performance through the power of gameplay. This could be VR apps that train perceptuo-motor skills in the home or monitor changes in players’ neural fitness that can occur because of injuries (e.g. concussions). 
The talk will conclude by sharing some thoughts on the future of VR technology and the Metaverse and highlight opportunities for researchers to take advantage of this technology.