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Guidelines for the Development of Immersive Virtual Reality Software for Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuropsychology: The Development of Virtual Reality Everyday Assessment Lab (VR-EAL), A Neuropsychological Test Battery in Immersive Virtual Reality
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  • Panagiotis Kourtesis ,
  • Danai Korre ,
  • Simona Collina ,
  • Leonidas A. A. Doumas ,
  • Sarah E. MacPherson
Panagiotis Kourtesis
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Danai Korre
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Simona Collina
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Leonidas A. A. Doumas
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Sarah E. MacPherson
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Virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMD) appear to be effective research tools, which may address the problem of ecological validity in neuropsychological testing. However, their widespread implementation is hindered by VR induced symptoms and effects (VRISE) and the lack of skills in VR software development. This study offers guidelines for the development of VR software in cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology, by describing and discussing the stages of the development of Virtual Reality Everyday Assessment Lab (VR-EAL), the first neuropsychological battery in immersive VR. Techniques for evaluating cognitive functions within a realistic storyline are discussed. The utility of various assets in Unity, software development kits, and other software are described so that cognitive scientists can overcome challenges pertinent to VRISE and the quality of the VR software. In addition, this pilot study attempts to evaluate VR-EAL in accordance with the necessary criteria for VR software for research purposes. The VR neuroscience questionnaire (VRNQ; Kourtesis et al., 2019b) was implemented to appraise the quality of the three versions of VR-EAL in terms of user experience, game mechanics, in-game assistance, and VRISE. Twenty-five participants aged between 20 and 45 years with 12-16 years of full-time education evaluated various versions of VR-EAL. The final version of VR-EAL achieved high scores in every sub-score of the VRNQ and exceeded its parsimonious cut-offs. It also appeared to have better in-game assistance and game mechanics, while its improved graphics substantially increased the quality of the user experience and almost eradicated VRISE. The results substantially support the feasibility of the development of effective VR research and clinical software without the presence of VRISE during a 60-minute VR session.
14 Jan 2020Published in Frontiers in Computer Science volume 1. 10.3389/fcomp.2019.00012