Monitoring Changes in Heart Rate Variability Using Fast Fourier Transform Tests While Flying a Drone in Virtual Reality and on a Screen

Victoria Adams-Parsons
Jessica L. Kenmuir
Ashley Marks

Abstract

The use of virtual reality (VR) started in 1950 and was used mainly for theatres, medical, vehicle stimulation and military. The commercial use of VR started around a decade ago and has yielded some health and safety hazards. Cybersickness, like motion sickness occurs when the signals from the eyes don’t match with vestibular senses, and it is the most common health problem caused by VR. Often when using VR, individuals experience a change in visual stimuli but minimal change in their vestibular senses. VR movement causes visual signals to be sent to the brain however, not vestibular signals. This conflict often causes: general discomfort, vertigo and nausea (Gavgani et al., 2017). The effects of VR on the heart and nervous system has been studied however, most studies focus on minimizing the symptoms of cybersickness, in this study we are analysing the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

Heart rate variability allows a more accurate analysis of electrical signals being sent to the heart through the autonomic nervous system (Soehn, 2017). By using fast fourier transform (FFT) we can separate the signals into low and high frequencies. The high frequencies represent the component of the heart rate that reflects PNS action (Watanabe et al., 2007). For our study, we will test to see if there is a difference of the high frequencies of heart rate variability between three different conditions. Therefore, we will be able to determine the amount of parasympathetic nervous system activation occurring.

Our experiment is designed to test the changes between three different conditions: control, VR (3D), and a computer screen (2D). The heart rate variability test will allow us to analyse the different frequencies sent from the nervous system into the heart which causes it to beat. A collection of high and low frequencies are sent through the heart to force different parts of the heart to contract and relax. FFT will be used to separate the frequency levels, allowing us to make comparisons between the conditions. This will give us an insight on the effects of virtual reality on the PNS and whether it is affecting the heart. The different conditions are predicted to show a reduction of mean parasympathetic activity and increase the variability of high frequency occurrence. This is due to the change in perspective from second person to first person point of view. If our hypothesis is supported, then we will have determined that these stimuli are causing changes within the nervous system and are affecting the heart.

 

Monitoring Changes in Heart Rate Variability Using Fast Fourier Transform Tests While Flying a Drone in Virtual Reality and on a Screen

The use of virtual reality (VR) started in 1950 and was used mainly for theatres, medical, vehicle stimulation and military. The commercial use of VR started around a decade ago and has yielded some health and safety hazards. Cybersickness, like motion sickness occurs when the signals from the eyes don’t match with vestibular senses, and it is the most common health problem caused by VR. Often when using VR, individuals experience a change in visual stimuli but minimal change in their vestibular senses. VR movement causes visual signals to be sent to the brain however, not vestibular signals. This conflict often causes: general discomfort, vertigo and nausea (Gavgani et al., 2017). The effects of VR on the heart and nervous system has been studied however, most studies focus on minimizing the symptoms of cybersickness, in this study we are analysing the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

Heart rate variability allows a more accurate analysis of electrical signals being sent to the heart through the autonomic nervous system (Soehn, 2017). By using fast fourier transform (FFT) we can separate the signals into low and high frequencies. The high frequencies represent the component of the heart rate that reflects PNS action (Watanabe et al., 2007). For our study, we will test to see if there is a difference of the high frequencies of heart rate variability between three different conditions. Therefore, we will be able to determine the amount of parasympathetic nervous system activation occurring.

Our experiment is designed to test the changes between three different conditions: control, VR (3D), and a computer screen (2D). The heart rate variability test will allow us to analyse the different frequencies sent from the nervous system into the heart which causes it to beat. A collection of high and low frequencies are sent through the heart to force different parts of the heart to contract and relax. FFT will be used to separate the frequency levels, allowing us to make comparisons between the conditions. This will give us an insight on the effects of virtual reality on the PNS and whether it is affecting the heart. The different conditions are predicted to show a reduction of mean parasympathetic activity and increase the variability of high frequency occurrence. This is due to the change in perspective from second person to first person point of view. If our hypothesis is supported, then we will have determined that these stimuli are causing changes within the nervous system and are affecting the heart.