New generation of virtual humans helping to train psychologists

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"As this technology continues to improve, it will have a significant impact on how clinical training is conducted in psychology and medicine," said psychologist and virtual reality technology expert Albert "Skip" Rizzo, PhD, who demonstrated recent advancements in virtual reality for use in psychology. Virtual humans can now be highly interactive, artificially intelligent and capable of carrying on a conversation with real humans, according to Rizzo, a research scientist at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. "This has set the stage for the'birth' of intelligent virtual humans to be used in clinical training settings," he said. Rizzo showed videos of clinical psychiatry trainees engaging with virtual patients called "Justin" and "Justina." Justin is a 16-year-old with a conduct disorder who is being forced by his family to participate in therapy.

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