Immersive Composition for Sensory Rehabilitation: 3D Visualisation, Surround Sound, and Synthesised Music to Provoke Catharsis and Healing

  • Jessica Argo
  • Minhua Ma
  • Christoph Kayser
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8778)


There is a wide range of sensory therapies using sound, music and visual stimuli. Some focus on soothing or distracting stimuli such as natural sounds or classical music as analgesic, while other approaches emphasize the active performance of producing music as therapy. This paper proposes an immersive multi-sensory Exposure Therapy for people suffering from anxiety disorders, based on a rich, detailed surround-soundscape. This soundscape is composed to include the users’ own idiosyncratic anxiety triggers as a form of habituation, and to provoke psychological catharsis, as a non-verbal, visceral and enveloping exposure. To accurately pinpoint the most effective sounds and to optimally compose the soundscape we will monitor the participants’ physiological responses such as electroencephalography, respiration, electromyography, and heart rate during exposure. We hypothesize that such physiologically optimized sensory landscapes will aid the development of future immersive therapies for various psychological conditions, Sound is a major trigger of anxiety, and auditory hypersensitivity is an extremely problematic symptom. Exposure to stress-inducing sounds can free anxiety sufferers from entrenched avoidance behaviors, teaching physiological coping strategies and encouraging resolution of the psychological issues agitated by the sound.


Surround sound Ambisonics Anxiety Physiological monitoring Exposure therapy desensitization immersive virtual environment 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Cohen, A.: Music as a Source of Emotion in Film. In: Juslin, P., Sloboda, J. (eds.) Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory Research and Applications. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2001)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Greenman, D., Meulenberg, F., White, M.: The Power of Music. In: Bolton, G.: Dying, Bereavement and the Healing Arts. Jessica Kingsley, London (2008)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Have, I.: Background Music and Background Feelings - Background Music in Audio-Visual Media. The Journal of Music and Meaning 6 (Spring 2008)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ross, A.: The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. Harper Perennial, London (2007)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Austin, D.: Songs of the Self: Vocal Psychotherapy for Adults Traumatized as Children. In: Carey, L. (ed.) Expressive and Creative Arts Methods for Trauma Survivors. Jessica Kingsley, London (2006)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gabrielsson, A.: Emotions in Strong Experiences in Music. In: Juslin, P., Sloboda, J.A. (eds.) Music and Emotion: Theory and Research. Oxford University Press, U.K. (2001)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fassbender, E., Martyn Jones, C.: The importance and creation of high-quality sounds in healthcare applications. Awaiting Publication (2014)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hoffman, H.G., Chambers, G.T., Meyer, W.J., et al.: Virtual Reality as an Adjunctive Non-pharmacologic Analgesic for Acute Burn Pain During Medical Procedures. The Society of Behavioral Medicine (41), 183–191 (2011)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Mueller, W.: EASe Listening Therapy (1995),
  10. 10.
    Schnall, S., Hedge, C., Weaver, R.: The Immersive Virtual Environment of the digital fulldome: Considerations of relevant psychological processes. International Journal of Human Computer Studies 70(8) (2012)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Liljjedahl, M.: Sound for Fantasy and Freedom. In: Grimshaw (ed.) Game Sound Technology and Player Interaction: Concepts and Developments. Information Science Reference (2011)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Roy, M.J., Francis, J., Friedlander, J., Banks-Williams, L., Lande, R.G., et al.: Improvement in cerebral function with treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1208, 142–149 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Panksepp, J., Bernatzky, G.: Emotional sounds and the brain: the neuro-affective foundations of musical appreciation. Behavioral Processes (60), 133–155 (2001)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Freeman, J., Lessiter, J.: Here, There and Everywhere: The Effects of Multichannel Audio on Presence. In: Proceedings of the 2001 International Conference on Auditory Display (2001)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Altenmuller, E., Schlaug, G.: Neurologic music therapy: The beneficial effects of music making on neurorehabilitation. Acoustical Science & Technology 34(1), 5–12 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Goncalves, R., Pedrozo, A.L., Coutinho, E.S.F., Figueira, I., Ventura, P.: Efficacy of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy in the Treatment of PTSD: A Systematic Review. Plos One 7(12) (December 2012)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Herbelin, B., et al.: Virtual Reality in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: a Study on Social Anxiety Disorder (2002) (Unpublished)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Grillon, C., Franco-Chaves, J.A., Mateus, C.F., Ionescu, D.F., Zarate, C.A.: Major Depression is Not Associated with Blunting of Aversive Responses; Evidence for Enhanced Anxious Anticipation. Plos One 8(8) (August 2013)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Callaghan, K.: Torture – the body in conflict. The Role of Movement Psychotherapy. In: Liebmann, M.: Arts Approaches to Conflict. Jessica Kingsley, London (1997)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wegerer, M., Blechert, J., Kerschbaum, H., Wilhelm, F.H.: Relationship between Fear Conditionability and Aversive Memories: Evidence from a Novel Conditioned-Intrusion Paradigm. Plos One 8(11) (November 2013)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Jönsson, A., Breslin, R., Ma, M.: The Ambience Table: A Serious Gaming Interface for Aiding Sound Design. In: Ma, M., Oliveira, M.F., Petersen, S., Hauge, J.B. (eds.) SGDA 2013. LNCS, vol. 8101, pp. 151–164. Springer, Heidelberg (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Rhiannonsmoon, Sundog, Sabrina, BrokenNBeautiful, Boodles, BlueEyesToo, on PsychCentral,
  23. 23.
    McGeoch, C.: Equalization lecture at Glasgow School of Art (2013)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Argo, J.: Anti-Cocktail-Party-Effect (2013),
  25. 25.
    Argo, J.: Blood Set in Motion (2013),
  26. 26.
  27. 27.
    Argo, J.: From Phrase to Phase: Evolving Musical Affect by Transformative Visceral Catharsis. Masters Thesis, MDes Sound for Moving Image at Glasgow School of Art (2013)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Argo, J.: Present Past (2013),
  29. 29.
    Goodman, S.: Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. MIT Press, Massachusetts (2010)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Gerlach, A.L., Neudeck, P.: Interoceptive Exposure. In: Abramowitz, J.S., Deacon, B.J., Whiteside, S.P.H. (eds.) Exposure Therapy for Anxiety: Principles and Practice. The Guildford Press, New York (2011)Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Oohashi, T., Nishina, E., Honda, M., et al.: Inaudible High Frequency Sounds Affect Brain Activity: Hypersonic Effect. Journal of Neurophysiology, The American Physiological Society 83, 3548–3558 (2000)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Champion, E.: Augmenting the Present with the Past. In: Playing with the Past. Human-Computer Interaction Series. Springer Verlag London Ltd. (2011)Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ubisoft, Introducing O.zen, a gamified stress management tool from Ubisoft (2013),
  34. 34.
    Knox, M., et al.: Game-based biofeedback for pediatric anxiety and depression. Mental Health and Family Medicine (8) (2011)Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Loui, P., Bachorik, J.P., Li, H.C., Schlaug, G.: Effects of Voice on Emotional Arousal. Frontiers in Psychology 4, Article 675 (2013)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Kim, S., Andre, E.: Composing Affective Music with a Generate and Sense Approach. American Association for Artificial Intelligence (2004)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Argo
    • 1
  • Minhua Ma
    • 1
  • Christoph Kayser
    • 2
  1. 1.Digital Design StudioGlasgow School of ArtUK
  2. 2.Centre for Cognitive NeuroimagingUniversity of GlasgowUK

Personalised recommendations