National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Launches an Educational Virtual Reality Experience for Teens

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recently launched Alcohol and Your Brain, a virtual reality (VR) module to engage and educate young audiences about how alcohol affects the brain. Designed for Oculus Quest, Quest 2, or Meta Quest Pro headsets, this activity takes users on a virtual rollercoaster ride through the brain, with stops to describe alcohol’s harmful effects on the prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, hippocampus, and cerebellum.

NIAAA created a complementary desktop video version of the VR module to make the Alcohol and Your Brain content even more accessible. Parents and educators can share the video with middle schoolers on any computer or mobile device. NIAAA also created a second video version that provides audio descriptions for users with low or no vision. Both videos provide captions for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

NIAAA kicked off the launch of the VR experience during the 2023 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Take Your Child to Work Day event on April 27. The VR experience was well received by participants, and the online, audio-described version earned praise from the NIH Digital Accessibility Program.

NIAAA will showcase the VR experience at upcoming professional association conferences. Students, caregivers, stakeholder groups, news media, and the general public are invited to engage with and share this free resource. You can find more NIAAA educational materials on alcohol and the brain on this webpage.


This article first appeared in NIAAA Spectrum.

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