The main device in our Haptic lab is the HapticMaster. The HapticMaster is a 3-degree of freedom, force-controlled haptic interface. This programmable robot arm not only gives the possibility to simulate actions in a virtual environment with a much wider range of voluntary movements than a joystick, it also accurately tracks forces and movements (angular displacements). The HapticMaster also enables us to assess body freeze, a typical behavioral defense response under threat characterized by reduced body motion and bradycardia that has been extensively observed in animal research, but has been largely ignored in human fear research.
Our haptic lab hence allows the experimental study of avoidance behavior, which is a core process within chronic pain, but also anxiety and eating disorders. Up to now, it has proven to be very difficult to operationalize and measure this type of behavior in lab and clinical studies. Furthermore, the implementation possibilities in virtual reality environments allows manipulation of other contextual factors in studying avoidance processes.
Besides the HapticMaster, our Haptic lab currently consists of an electro-shocker, an EEG/EXG amplifier and a big TV-screen for stimulus presentation.