Illustration for article titled Fighting fears with augmented-reality roaches

If fear is the mind killer, as Muad'dib explained, the routes for banishing those fears are equally devastating — it usually means confronting them. But a new Spanish study, using virtual roaches, might unlock a less grody path.

Six subjects in a Spanish experiment, subjects with a severe fear of cockroaches, exhibited a severe level of anxiety when presented with virtual roaches. According to Popular Science:

Participants sat at a desk with a computer, wearing a virtual reality headset. The headset had a camera, so the person wearing it would see a video of the desk she was looking at — but covered in virtual cockroaches. Six female study participants reported extremely high anxiety levels when presented with the simulated cockroaches.


It's unclear whether the augmented reality treatment can be used to cure the phobia in question. It was designed to simply see if the same level of panic could be reached in hopes that far more dangerous phobias — of, say, falling — could be treated is the same manner.


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