While virtual reality (VR) is an emerging paradigm in a variety of research contexts, VR-based embodiment effects on behavior and performance still lack in sufficient evidence regarding to bias in cognitive performance assessment.
In this methodological observational study, we compare the VR measurement of cognitive performance with a conventional computer-based testing approach in real life (RL) in younger and older adults. The differences between VR and RL scenarios are investigated using the background of two theoretical models from cognitive psychology. Furthermore, data assessment reliability and validity are analyzed, concerning the feasibility of technological and ergonomic aspects.
A within-group comparison showed no change in information processing speed in either one of the two age groups, i.e., both groups perform equally well in RL and in a VR testing environment.
The use of lifelike VR environments for cognitive performance tests seems not to lead to any performance changes compared to RL computer-based assessments, making VR suitable for similar applications. On technical concerns, we recommend the careful use of reaction time paradigms regarding to input hardware and stimuli presentation.
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