Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Presence and Memory: Immersive Virtual Reality Effects on Cued Recall

Presence and Memory: Immersive Virtual Reality Effects on Cued Recall

Jakki Bailey, Jeremy N. Bailenson, Andrea Stevenson Won, June Flora and K. Carrie Armel

Stanford Tech Report - only Preliminary Results


Presence, the psychological experience of “being there,” is an important construct to consider when investigating the impact of mediated experiences on cognition. Though several studies have investigated the influence of presence on the memory of virtual environments (i.e. recalling virtual objects), few have tested how presence impacts memory on subsequent tasks in the physical world. Thirty-three male and female college students were exposed to a pro-environmental message in an immersive virtual environment. After the virtual reality treatment, they completed a memory task in the physical world regarding pro-environmental principles. Results showed a significant negative association between levels of reported presence in the virtual world and the number of correct water conservation examples remembered in the physical world. These findings suggest that media technology that induces presence can influence an individual’s ability to remember information in the physical world. Possible theoretical explanations of how presence may negatively impact cognition are presented.


Here they seek to relate a specific component of VW to memory, viz., presence or subjective levels of being there, with memory recall in cueing experiments.

They use a nVisor SX111 HMD (NVIS, Reston, VA) with a resolution of 2056 x 1024 and a refresh rate of 120 frames per second to perform the work, framerate is very high compared to Oculus, which may improve presence?  Need to keep this in mind.

Experiment context is that the task involved an environmental narrative, so emotional resonance with such a concept could be a factor here as well.  Does it work the same with other more humdrum narratives?

They also look at free recall and cued recall, so the memory tests are of a different type in each case to cover possibly differing memory processes.

Useful presence scale for assessing level of presence: "A five- item scaled was adapted from presence scales used in previous studies (Bailenson and Yee, 2007; Ahn & Bailenson, 2011; Nowak & Biocca, 2003)."

Note they get a NEGATIVE correlation with memory and presence (n=33).  This needs to be considered for my experiments.  It would be interesting to see if a comparison with desktop levels of presence will map to my other results with Unity and Metasonic?!?!?

Negative correlation is potentially explained by:

1. Vivid inputs from VW could drain cognitive capacity to remember items.
2. Arousal - high levels of emotion - limit memory tasks.
3. People who report high levels of presence actually remember things using different processes, and so are actually a different subject group, so could be a confounding factor that needs to be controlled.
4. Only correlational experiment, no details on causation, so needs further work.

An interesting result, bring out many research questions to answer on the relationship of VW elements with cognitive processes.


Lin, Duh, Parker, Abi-Rached, & Furness, 2002
Mania & Chalmers, 2001
Dinh, Walker, Song, Kobayashi, and Hodges 1999 

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