VR Project: HDinYA

Virtual Reality Project: Understanding Healthy Development in Young Adults

The purpose of this research project is to better understand the complex interplay among various psychological, social, and cultural processes that contribute to young adults’ food choices and risk for obesity. Specifically, we will explore the associations among psychological (e.g. mental health, body dissatisfaction) and social (e.g., parenting) factors that affect emerging adults’ self-regulation and food selection. In addition, the role of cultural variables (e.g., acculturation, ethnic identity, discrimination experiences) will be explored in a subsample of Asian American young adults.

Young adults’ neurological [i.e., pre-frontal cortex activation via near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)] and physiological processes (i.e., heart rate, heart rate variability, and galvanic skin response via a smartwatch, electrocardiogram, and GSR device) will be assessed while they make food-related decisions in a virtual reality buffet environment and in UMBC’s True Grit’s cafeteria. Participants will also be wearing eye-tracking glasses while in the True Grit’s cafeteria to capture their attentional processing of food images.

VR Buffet Environment
True Grit’s Cafeteria versus VR Buffet Environment

The information that is learned may help in the design of intervention and prevention efforts to promote healthy psychological and physical development in young adults.



Lira Yoon, Ph.D. (Department of Psychology, UMBC)

Lujie Karen Chen, Ph.D. (Department of Information Systems, UMBC)

Travis Masterson, Ph.D. (Department of Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University)

Imaging Research Center, UMBC