VR Tech Can Improve People's Memory, Study Finds

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A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Maryland shows that people can remember information better when immersed in virtual reality environments, rather than by using tablets or computers. In testing the impact of virtual reality on the ability of students to retain details, the researchers utilized a method called memory palace, which allows people to recall details like people or objects by placing them in specific locations in an imaginary setting like towns or buildings. All forty research participants utilized both computers and VR headsets, and were tasked with navigating through an imaginary interior setting using a mouse or by moving their heads horizontally and vertically. Placed in different locations in the imaginary building were the faces of popular celebrities and characters including Batman, Oprah Winfrey, Rev. Martin Luther King, and Stephen Hawking. After a two-minute break, the subjects would again navigate through the building, and were asked to remember which face was previously placed in a specific location.

Based on the results obtained by the researchers, navigating through the imaginary building using virtual reality headsets resulted in an 8.8-percent improvement in the accuracy of recalling the location of faces compared to using traditional desktops or tablets. The researchers also noted that 40-percent of the participants showed more than 10-percent improvement in their ability to recollect information when they used VR headsets. However, not all subjects preferred using VR, with two participants stating that they are not comfortable with such systems. The researchers attributed the improved recalling ability to the idea that the manner in which people move and sense their surroundings affect how they create or remember things.

Within the last few years, researchers have already developed educational and therapeutic tools that take advantage of virtual reality. For example, a VR application has previously been created to replicate scenarios that allow counselors or therapists to interact with children with autism in an effort to develop their social skills. In addition, virtual reality has also enabled students from different parts of the world to participate in lessons remotely. The researchers emphasized that this recent study further demonstrates the potential of VR in education, especially in the development of training modules and other similar programs.

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