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Can virtual reality challenge real-life prejudices?

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Gary Wynn
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In a dusty, brightly-lit street in a favela named Gereba outside of Fortaleza, Brazil, a woman turns to you.

"I raised eight children without a home, food, clothes and shoes.

One out of every six people who saw it donated - twice the normal number.

In 2014, Portuguese researchers compared the emotional response of volunteers viewing an image in a virtual reality environment to those viewing it on a computer screen.

Mayank Mehta, a professor of physics, neurology and neurobiology at UCLA, performed experiments on mice running on a treadmill with tiny VR glasses and monitored their neural activity.

While it may feel implausible that you'll be able to plop a VR helmet on your racist uncle and see his bigotry dissolve in real-time, the power that virtual worlds hold for tackling prejudice has been documented again and again.

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Gary Wynn
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