The Virtual Reality for Nightmare Disorder Project is an effort to create a virtual reality enabled treatment for the DSM-V diagnosis of Nightmare Disorder. Computer engineers at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) have created a customized software that researchers run through the Occulus Rift VR system to guide participants in a treatment session that allows them to confront and manipulate nightmare imagery.
The goal of this treatment is to activate the prefrontal cortex – where imagery control happens – to allow a greater command of disturbing mental images and to mitigate the overactive amygdala to maintain proper fear regulatory responses. The project hopes to better identify the causes of this disorder and thereby better ameliorate its effects. Years active: 2017–Present.