Virtual Reality Therapy and Medical Technology

VR-Labor der Psychiatrie mit Fr.Prof. Philipsen und Dr. Niclas Braun im Hintergrund

Virtual reality therapy (VRT) describes the computer-generated simulation of immersive, interactive, and reality-close virtual environments for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. A typical VRT application is for instance the reality-close visual simulation of anxiety-provoking situations by means of VR glasses for exposure therapy in anxiety disorders.

The aim of the research group "Virtual Reality Therapy and Medical Technology" (head: Dr. Niclas Braun) is the (further) development and multimodal examination of VR-based diagnostic and therapeutic methods for mental disorders. In addition, the research group deals with various medical technology issues, such as the development and efficacy evaluation of digital healthcare apps and electrosimulative therapy approaches.

Research areas

  • Development of new examination and therapy approaches for ADHD, panic disorder & agoraphobia, anxiety disorders, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
  • Experimental studies on the psychopathology and plasticity of the self by means of different body-transfer illusions (e.g. supernumerary limb illusion und resized limb illusion) in dissociative disorders and psychoses.
  • Multimodal investigation (including EEG, EDA, EMG, ECG, actigraphy, eye tracking and fNIRS) of VR experiments.
  • Therapeutic testing of electrostimulatory procedures (especially tACS).
  • Research focus Digital Health Applications (DiGA) and Therapy-Apps.
  • Mobile sensing using smartphones and health trackers for ADHD and depression.

Currently running research projects

  • Assessment of sense of agency in obsessive-compulsive disorder using a virtual reality stove-checking paradigm (in Kooperation mit der Zwangsambulanz)
  • Smartphone-assisted exposure therapy in agoraphobia and panic disorder (M. Ehklas, M. Guth, A. Rodenjohann, F. Rohlfsen, J. Schilbach, A. Wiebe)
  • Body transfer illusions in dissociative disorders: a series of VR experiments (M. Pensel, A. Kobialka, J. Raschkowski)
  • Multimodal ADHD diagnostics: a virtual office study (A. Wiebe, A. Popova)
  • Virtual reality-based symptom characterization using complex motor tracking in adult ADHD and depression (J. Pakos, L. Asché, J. Schuder, H. Schrage)



Prizes and Awards

  • DIVR XR Science Award 2023 in category „Athletic Performance, Psychology & Health“ with the topic „Virtueller Seminarraum für die Diagnostik und Therapie der ADHS im Erwachsenenalter"

Recent publications

  • Kannen K., Rasbach J., Fantazi A., Wiebe A., Selaskowski B., Asché L., Aslan B., Lux S., Herrmann C.S., Philipsen A. and Braun N. (2024) Alpha modulation via transcranial alternating current stimulation in adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Front. Psychol. 14:1280397. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1280397
  • Aslan, B., Lux S., Braun, N., Schulze, M., Philipsen, A. (2023). ADHS im Erwachsenenalter. Zeitschrift für Neurologie, Neurochirurgie und Psychiatrie, 24 (4), 121-132.
  • López-Pinar, C., Selaskowski, B., Braun, N., Fornés-Ferrer, V., Euscher, R., Matthies, S., Jans, T., van Elst, L. T., Jacob, C., Huss, M., Sobanski, E., Retz, W., Roesler, M., Retz-Junginger, P., Alm, B., Kis, B., Abdel-Hamid, M., Colla, M., Berger, M., Lux, S., … Philipsen, A. (2023). Exploring the efficacy of dialectical behaviour therapy and methylphenidate on emotional comorbid symptoms in adults with attention Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder: Results of the COMPAS multicentre randomised controlled trial. Psychiatry research, 330, 115610.
  • Klein, F., Müller-Von Aschwege, F., Elfert, P., Räker, J., Philipsen, A., Braun, N., Selaskowski, B., Wiebe, A., Guth, M., Spallek, J., Seuss, S., Storey, B., Geppert, L. N., Lück, I., & Hein, A. (2023). Developing Advanced AI Ecosystems to Enhance Diagnosis and Care for Patients with Depression. Studies in health technology and informatics, 309, 18–22.
  • Guth, M., Wiebe, A., Philipsen, A. (2023). Digitale Gesundheitsanwendungen mit psychotherapeutischem Fokus: Therapieprinzipien, Einsatzmöglichkeiten, rechtlicher Rahmen und Verordnungspraxis am Beispiel der Anwendungen für die Panikstörung und Agoraphobie. Der Nervenarzt, 94, 250-261.
  • Selaskowski, B., Reiland, M., Schulze, M., Aslan, B., Kannen, K., Wiebe, A., . . . Braun, N. (2023). Chatbot-supported psychoeducation in adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: Randomised controlled trial. BJPsych Open, 9(6), E192. doi:10.1192/bjo.2023.573
  • Wiebe, A., Aslan, B., Brockmann, C., Lepartz, A., Dudek, D., Kannen, K., Selaskowski, B., Lux, S., Ettinger, U., Philipsen, A., Braun, N (2023). Multimodal Assessment of Adult Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Controlled Virtual Seminar Room Study. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy.
  • Selaskowski, B., Asché, L. M., Wiebe, A., Kannen, K., Aslan, B., Gerding, T. M., Sanchez, D., Ettinger, U., Kölle, M., Lux, S., Philipsen, A., & Braun, N. (2023). Gaze-based attention refocusing training in virtual reality for adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. BMC Psychiatry, 23(1), 74.
  • *Wiebe A, *Kannen K, *Selaskowski B, Mehren A, Thöne AK, Pramme L, Blumenthal N, Li M, Asché L, Jonas S, Bey K, Schulze M, Steffens M, Pensel MC, Guth M, Rohlfsen F, Ekhlas M, Lügering H, Fileccia H, Pakos J, Lux S, Philipsen A, Braun N. (2022). Virtual reality in the diagnostic and therapy for mental disorders: A systematic  review. Clinical Psychology Review, 98, 102213. *shared first authorship
  • *Baum, K., *Hackmann, J., *Pakos, J., Kannen, K., Wiebe, A., Selaskowski, B., … Braun, N. (2022). Body transfer illusions in the schizophrenia spectrum: a systematic review. Schizophrenia, 8(1), 103. *shared first authorship
  • Selaskowski, B., Steffens, M., Schulze, M., Lingen, M., Aslan, B., Rosen, H., Kannen, K., Wiebe, A., Wallbaum, T., Boll, S., Lux, S., Philipsen, A., & Braun, N. (2022). Smartphone-assisted psychoeducation in adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Psychiatry Research, 317, 114802.
  • Kannen, K., Aslan, B., Boetzel, C., Herrmann, C. S., Lux, S., Rosen, H., Selaskowski, B., Wiebe, A., Philipsen, A., & Braun, N. (2022). P300 Modulation via Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation in Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Crossover Study. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 13.
  • Wiebe, A., Kannen, K., Li, M., Aslan, B., Anders, D., Selaskowski, B., Ettinger, U., Lux, S., Philipsen, A., & Braun, N. (2022). Multimodal Virtual Reality-Based Assessment of Adult ADHD: A Feasibility Study in  Healthy Subjects. Assessment, 10731911221089192.
  • Selaskowski, B., Staerk, C., Braun, N., Matthies, S., Graf, E., Colla, M., Jacob, C., Sobanski, E., Alm, B., Roesler, M., Retz, W., Retz-Junginger, P., Kis, B., Abdel-Hamid, M., Huss, M., Jans, T., Tebartz van Elst, L., Berger, M., Lux, S., Mayr, A., & Philipsen, A. (2022). Multimodal treatment efficacy differs in dependence of core symptom profiles in adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: An analysis of the randomized controlled COMPAS trial. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 151, 225–234.
  • Peckmann, C., Kannen, K., Pensel, M. C., Lux, S., Philipsen, A., & Braun, N. (2022). Virtual reality induces symptoms of depersonalization and derealization: A longitudinal randomised control trial. Computers in Human Behavior, 131, 107233.
  • Anders, D., Berisha, A., Selaskowski, B., Asché, L., Thorne, J. D., Philipsen, A., & Braun, N. (2021). Experimental Induction of Micro- and Macrosomatognosia: A Virtual Hand Illusion Study. Frontiers in Virtual Reality, 2, 47.
  • Braun, N., Berisha, A., Anders, D., Kannen, K., Lux, S., & Philipsen, A. (2020). Experimental Inducibility of Supernumerary Phantom Limbs: A Series of Virtual Reality Experiments. Frontiers in Virtual Reality, 1(October), 1–18.
  • Möller, T. J., Braun, N., Thöne, A.-K., Herrmann, C. S., & Philipsen, A. (2020). The Senses of Agency and Ownership in Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11(June), 1–13.
  • Spychala, N., Bongartz, E., Philipsen, A., Debener, S. & Braun, N. (2020). Self-paced, embodiable neurofeedback for post-stroke motor rehabilitation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Public media

Third-party funds raised

Opportunities for internships and dissertations

Professionally-suitable students (e.g. Psychology, Cognitive Science, Medicine, Informatics) who would like to write their master's or doctoral thesis about a clinical or neurophilosophical VR-related topic, are warmly welcomed to contact 

Current tenders

Opportunities for study participation

The VR-Laboratory as well as the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in general is constantly conducting new studies for which new study participants of all ages and sexes are being searched for.  

Please find under the following link a list of all currently running studies for which prospective probands are searched for.

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