Brain training with the body in mind: Towards gamified approach-avoidance training using virtual reality

Naomi Kakoschke, Rowan Page, Barbora de Courten, Antonio Verdejo-Garcia, Jon McCormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Approach-Avoidance Training (AAT) is a promising intervention for modifying automatic cognitive biases towards highly palatable, but unhealthy food cues. As AAT requires repetitive motor exercises in response to basic visual stimuli, users typically find the training unengaging. Virtual reality (VR) provides an innovative opportunity for delivering more engaging, and ultimately, effective training through presenting virtual sensory stimuli in the virtual environment that replace the user's sensory stimuli. In this study, we compared user experience (flow, immersion, engagement) and performance (accuracy, approach bias) of AAT delivered via three interfaces (computer, smartphone, and VR). Participants were 24 adults (50% female; n = 12) aged 20–45 years old (M = 31.05, SD = 8.18). Results showed that VR-delivered AAT received higher engagement, flow, and immersion ratings from users than AAT delivered via a computer or smartphone application. Participants also made fewer errors on the VR delivered AAT. Thus, in our experiment, VR was a more engaging and effective way to deliver the training. Future research should examine the potential of VR to further leverage gamification elements within more immersive environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102626
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Approach-avoidance training
  • Cognitive bias modification
  • Gamification
  • Immersion
  • Virtual reality

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