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  • Writer's pictureMorgan Karpiel

Stress Relief, Cognitive Empathy, & Beyond: The Benefits of VR Audiobooks

Updated: Feb 18



We live in a complicated, messy world. It’s not hard to slip into doom-scrolling or feel drained by the needs of others, or the emotions that bleed through our social media feeds 24/7. The ability to escape for short periods of time is a luxury—and one that offers tremendous mental health benefits.


Often, curling up on the sofa with a good book and a cup of tea is the perfect way to de-stress. Also, listening to audiobooks as we drive, excercise, cook, or work can be an efficient way to enjoy the work of our favorite authors. There are times, however, when a deeper level of immersion would help us to be truly present in a story as it unfolds.


With VR audiobooks, you can listen to the tragic tale of a haunted house while sitting inside a Gothic mansion. Follow the adventures of early Mars colonists while taking in a sunset on the Red Planet, or dive under the ice of Europa with the first human explorers. This is the promise of audiobooks in VR, a groundbreaking fusion of rich-language storytelling and virtual reality dreamscapes.


As VR devices improve, there will be an increasing number of people who purchase VR headsets for reasons beyond gaming. VR health apps offering meditation and fitness are already rising in popularity, but the mental health benefits that we normally associate with reading and audiobooks also have an important role in this space.

 

Boosting Emotional & Cognitive Empathy


VR audiobooks offer a unique advantage in evoking emotional empathy. Unlike traditional audiobooks, VR storytelling immerses listeners in a vivid narrative world. This intensifies emotional connections, making stories more impactful and memorable.


While VR games and interactive experiences have proven to be less effective in stimulating cognitive empathy, this aspect is enhanced by the rich language storytelling offered by audio narration. The key to cognitive empathy lies in our ability to imagine ourselves in the place of someone else to gain insight into what they are thinking.


Because VR Audiobooks offer environments instead of fully realized animation, film, or interactive experiences, they inspire more of a contribution (in terms of imagination) from the listener. The environments act as mood boards for the listener to use as they imagine characters and interactions that are happening within the story. This is where cognitive empathy helps to complete the picture.

 

Sharpening Mental Acuity


VR audiobooks can be created to thrill, seduce, and entertain, but their mental health value lies in the immersive nature of the experience; they're a cognitive feast. They stimulate memory and enhance comprehension in the same way that traditional audiobooks do.


Research indicates that engaging the mind can slow down the progression of brain diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia, particularly in older adults. Listening to stories activates key brain regions like the hippocampus and frontal cortex, which are vital for memory and learning. This activity fosters memory improvement through the development of new neuronal connections, making VR audiobooks a valuable tool for boosting brain activity.

 

Stress Relief


Traditional audiobooks are great at telling us stories and inspiring us, but our settings are generally our own spaces. Our living rooms. Our cars. Our kitchens or bedrooms. In VR, we can be sitting in a neon-bathed cyberpunk lounge or in the shadow of a lost temple. The result is a more immersive experience that engages our emotions, stimulates the mind, and provides a unique escape from the stress of our daily lives.


We’re working hard to be a high-quality publisher in this emerging space. Would you like to join us? If you’re a fan of audiobooks and are enjoying our videos, please let us know by subscribing to our channels, liking our videos, or leaving your thoughts in the comments. If you are a writer or a storyteller, and you would like to see your work adapted as a VR audio story, we invite you to contact us for details on how we can help. Together, we can create a literary space in VR!

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