Virtual Reality for Neurorehabilitation and Cognitive Enhancement

Our access to computer-generated worlds changes the way we feel, how we think, and how we solve problems. In this review, we explore the utility of different types of virtual reality, immersive or non-immersive, for providing controllable, safe environments that enable individual training, neurorehabilitation, or even replacement of lost functions. The neurobiological effects of virtual reality on neuronal plasticity have been shown to result in increased cortical gray matter volumes, higher concentration of electroencephalographic beta-waves, and enhanced cognitive performance. Clinical application of virtual reality is aided by innovative brain–computer interfaces, which allow direct tapping into the electric activity generated by different brain cortical areas for precise voluntary control of connected robotic devices. Virtual reality is also valuable to healthy individuals as a narrative medium for redesigning their individual stories in an integrative process of self-improvement and personal development. Future upgrades of virtual reality-based technologies promise to help humans transcend the limitations of their biological bodies and augment their capacity to mold physical reality to better meet the needs of a globalized world.