The Role of Three-dimensional Immersive Environments in Assessment and Training of Spatial Skills
Authors: Maria Kozhevnikov a, Ido Amihai a, Michael Kozhevnikov b
Abstract: Recently, increasingly realistic three-dimensional (3D) visual displays have been designed to serve as new, more ecologically valid alternatives to conventional two-dimensional (2D) displays. However, research has thus far provided inconsistent evidence regarding the effectiveness of 3D displays in facilitating training and task performance. Here we investigated how individuals generate and transform mental images within 3D immersive environments, in which the viewers perceive themselves as being surrounded by a 3D world. In Experiment 1, we compared participants’ performance on the mental rotation task across the following types of visual presentation environments: traditional 2D non-immersive (2DNI), 3D non-immersive (3DNI – anaglyphic glasses), and two 3D immersive (3DI) environments: 3DI/HMD - head mounted display with position and head orientation tracking, and 3DI/A –augmented virtual reality technology implementing “see-though” head mounted display. In Experiment 2, we compared electroencephalogram (EEG) data recorded while participants were mentally rotating spatial images presented in 3DI/HMD vs. 2DNI environments. The findings suggest that in a non-immersive environment, participants may utilize more “artificial” encoding, during which the 3D images are encoded with respect to a scene-based frame of reference (i.e. the computer screen). On the other hand, in an immersive environment, participants use egocentric encoding strategy, during which the 3D images are encoded in relation to the observer, the same strategy they would use in a real-world. Overall, the results of both experiments indicate that immersivity aspect of an environment might be one of the most important aspects to be considered for assessment and training in domains that rely on visual-spatial performance (e.g., robotics, navigation, medical surgery).
Keywords: Immersivity, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Egocentric and Allocentric Spatial Processing, Viewer-centered and Scene-based Encoding, Electroencephalogram (EEG).
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