What We Do

What we do:

The Penn Neurology VR Laboratory facilitates scientific and interdisciplinary VR/AR research in neuroscience and neuroscience-related studies such as psychology, radiology, forensics, anthropology, and several other medical fields where computer-driven 3d visualization, scientific-testing, simulation/modeling, and experimentation are required.


Located in the Brain Science Center, the laboratory broadly operates as a virtual and augmented reality experimentation and collaboration space, software development laboratory, subject-testing, and experimentation facility for research incorporating virtual and augmented reality. Services include VR/AR software development, hardware/software consultation, grant-methodology consultation, scientific VR/AR environmental design/production, VR simulation modeling, mobile/PC software development (tablet/mobile), environment scanning/modeling (terrestrial/drone), VR/AR experimental design, VR/AR experimentation, and subject testing. The lab is equipped with state-of-the-art computer hardware (high-end RTX GPU systems) and a multitude of virtual and augmented reality headsets are available for use.

MS Hololens preview

Some of our Projects

Phantom Limb Pain

Essentially mirror box therapy done with Virtual Reality.  Custom built games and a web browser provide a greater sense of agency over phantom limbs and a more compelling illusion while engaging the patient.

Hemispatial Neglect

We are using an eye-tracking VR headset with the Leap Motion to examine how subjects with Hemispatial Neglect explore their environments when presented with various arrangements of objects in peripersonal and extrapersonal space.

Navigation Brain Mapping

Subjects play taxi driver in a VR city, then play again on a regular screen while having their brain scanned.

Broca's Aphasia

An intervention for Broca’s Aphasia that sets subjects in front of a mirror in VR.  As they speak, they will see an avatar that looks exactly like them correctly mouth their words.


Explores the psychological effects of varying certain architectural features by letting subjects compare and explore rooms in VR.

Vibrotactile Compass

Explores the impact of a vibrotactile compass on navigation in a setting without any visual cues.  Subjects strap on a compass that indicates north by activating buzzers, follow a short path that disappears, and then indicate their origin.


An intervention for people with Hemiparesis in which symmetrical movements are preformed with hands manipulated with novel control schemes enabled by Leap Motion.

Racial Empathy

Explore racial empathy by embodying different races in VR and experiencing interactions affected by prejudice.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

An engaging intervention for Retinitis Pigmentosa in which a subject’s peripheral vision is precisely stimulated by meteors that hover in place before moving towards targets in a game akin to Missile Command.

Echocardiogram Visualizer

An application for the Microsoft Hololens that renders 3D echocardiograms.  We’re also exploring CT scan overlay for surgeons.

Affordance Memory

Explores effects of subtle geometric changes on memory with a series of trials in which subject must collect and then replace various objects.

Hand Magnification

Explores sensory effects of magnifying or shrinking one of the subject’s hands.

Who We Are

Dr. Jeffrey R. Vadala

Dr. Jeffrey R. Vadala is the lab’s director and lead Unreal Engine and Unity programmer. His research broadly explores human perception of landscapes and architectural spaces and how they shape both cognitive and cultural processes in contemporary and archaeological contexts. Utilizing both virtual reality and augmented reality tools, his doctoral research historically traced the historical processes associated with the development of human perception at ancient Maya sites in the Yucatan and Belize. As the director of the Penn Neurology VR Laboratory, he currently works as a collaborator and software developer with the goal of bringing virtual and augmented reality approaches and experimental methods to neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and medical researchers. He obtained his Ph.D. in anthropological archaeology from the University of Florida in 2016.

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