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Mar 31, 2008

Contribution of virtual reality to neuropsychology of memory: study in aging

Contribution of virtual reality to neuropsychology of memory: study in aging.

Psychol Neuropsychiatr Vieil. 2008 Mar;6(1):7-22

Authors: Plancher G, Nicolas S, Piolino P

The principal interest of virtual reality is its potential to create experiments close to daily life with a perfect experimental control. In a first time, we review the studies illustrating the contribution of virtual reality for neuropsychology, mainly for memory study. In a second time, we present the results of an experiment in which the subjects were driving in a virtual town, that tested all the episodic memory components, i.e. the memories of what, where and when events happened. Young and elderly adults performed the virtual test, either with intentional or incidental encoding, and either in active (they drove a virtual car) or passive exploration of the town (they were passengers). The results showed that older subjects recalled the spatiotemporal context and the details of the events in a lower proportion than younger, as well in active as in passive condition. Subject's memory complaints were correlated with the virtual scores, but not with usual verbal episodic memory tests. Therefore, virtual tests seem to allow a better assessment of episodic memory than the usual ones, especially because of their spatiotemporal memory assessment, and appear to be a hopeful tool for a neuropsychology closer to patient's daily life than the usual tests.


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