C. Stephanidis (Ed.): Universal Access in HCI, Part II, HCII 2007, LNCS 4555, pp. 451–459, 2007.
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007
The Use of Virtual Reality to Train Older Adults in
Processing of Spatial Information
Dyi-Yih Michael Lin and Po-Yuan Darren Yang
Cogvitive Aging and Digital Interaction Design Lab
Dpet. of Industrial Engineering and Management
Kaohsiung 840, Taiwan
The present study examined the effect of virtual reality/VR on
training older adults in spatial-based performance. Navigating emergency
escape routes in a local hospital was exemplified as the taks domain. 15 older
adults and 15 college students participated in an experiment where VR, VR plus
a bird-view map, and two-diemtional/2D map presentations were manipulated
as within-subject treatment levels of training media. The results indicated that
the older subject was less advantaged in identifying the correct turns leading to
the emergency exits. While the older subject was also found to have more
difficulty in recalling route landmarks, the 2D and VR-plus-map presentations
produced significantly stronger spatial memory than the pure VR media for
both age groups. When mental rotation was evaluated, the older subject was
able to achieve comparable performance if emergency routes were trained by
the VR, and the VR-plus-map presentations. Detailed implications were
discussed for the design of training media with age considerations.
virtual reality, training, cognitive aging, spatial performance.
An increasing number of older populations have been a major trend in many societies.
Research in aging has shown that normally age is negatively correlated with cognitive
functioning, which usually impedes the older adults from quality independent living.
In principal, the age-related decline in cognitive function can be accounted for by four
basic mechanisms, including processing speed, working memory, sensory function
and inhibition . The processing speed theory suggests that nearly all age-related
variance on almost any kind of cognitive tasks can be explained by a generalized,
decreased speed of performing mental operations . With respect to working
memory,  indicated that older adults were deficient in terms of the on-line
cognitive resources available at any given moment required for information
processing activities involving storage, retrieval, and transformation. Another piece of
evidence demonstrating cognitive decline with age is that nearly all of the age-related
variance was mediated by human sensory functioning, including visual and auditory