Understanding the Effects of Virtual Surroundings on Spatial Cognition and Memory: A Pilot Study
TimeWednesday, September 15
DescriptionMany people experience the encoding specificity principle. This is when people forget what they were doing as soon as they leave their environment; they must go back into that environment to retrace their steps. Many researchers have concluded that environmental visuals and sensory information provide essential cues for memory and spatial cognition. Although the literature is clear that environmental differences generate context-dependent memory, there has not been much investigation as to understanding what aspects of the environment cause these performance differences, and more specifically, within Virtual Reality (VR). In this research, we identified to what extent environmental surroundings affected spatial cognition and memory in VR. Color has been shown to trigger different moods, alter attention, and influence performance; as a result, we started our investigations by looking into primary colors. In this study, we observed how different colored rooms affected spatial cognition and memory. We put 10 participants through 36 possible room-color/set-of-object variants and tested them with recall and spatial placement tasks. We conducted a linear regression and ANOVA analysis to see if there was a correlation of color, gender, or bias on memory and spatial cognition. Our results hit a ceiling effect, and although differences were seen, it was not enough to vindicate a significant effect of color on performance. We discuss how this experimental design could be changed in the future to produce a higher workload and find significant results. It is essential to understand how virtual surroundings can affect performance to mitigate or enhance VR environment design.