Domna Banakou. Being somebody else: the future of narrative storytelling

Research in experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and virtual reality has provided evidence for the malleability of our brain’s body representation. It has been shown that a person’s body can be substituted by a life-sized artificial one, resulting in a perceptual illusion of body ownership over the fake body. Several studies have shown that when people are virtually represented with a body different to their own, they exhibit behaviours associated with attributes pertaining to that body. By exploiting Immersive Virtual Reality to induce body ownership illusions over distinct virtual bodies, I will show how altered self-representation can influence one’s self-perception, perception of the environment, and implicit biases, with the potential to bring about positive change.

Domna Banakou

Researcher | EVENT LAB | University of Barcelona

Domna Banakou obtained her bachelor degree in Computer Science in 2009 from the Ionian University, Corfu, Greece. In 2009-2010 she did a MSc in Computer Graphics, Vision and Imaging, at University College London (UCL). In 2017 she received her PhD degree in Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology using virtual reality from the University of Barcelona (UB), Spain, funded by the FI-DGR 2014 Grant for universities and research centres by the Generalitat de Catalunya. She is currently a postdoc researcher at EVENT-LAb (UB).    

“My research interest focuses on virtual environments and how people respond to events within these. I’m attracted by the idea of simulating situations that are difficult (or impossible) to realise in physical reality, and I am especially interested in the topic of bodily representation within virtual environments. I study transformations of the virtual bodily appearance, exploring the perceptual and behavioural correlates of body ownership illusions that occur as a function of the type of body in which embodiment occurs.”