Studying Spatial Memory in Augmented and Virtual reality

Shachar Maidenbaum, Ansh Patel, Isaiah Garlin, Josh Jacobs

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


Spatial memory is a crucial part of our lives. Spatial memory research and rehabilitation in humans is typically performed either in real environments, which is challenging practically, or in Virtual Reality (VR), which has limited realism. Here we explored the use of Augmented Reality (AR) for studying spatial cognition. AR combines the best features of real and VR paradigms by allowing subjects to learn spatial information in a flexible fashion while walking through a real-world environment. To compare these methods, we had subjects perform the same spatial memory task in VR and AR settings. Although subjects showed good performance in both, subjects reported that the AR task version was significantly easier, more immersive, and more fun than VR. Importantly, memory performance was significantly better in AR compared to VR. Our findings validate that integrating AR can lead to improved techniques for spatial memory research and suggest their potential for rehabilitation.HighlightsWe built matching spatial memory tasks in VR and ARSubjectively, subjects find the AR easier, more immersive and more funObjectively, subjects are significantly more accurate in AR compared to VRPointing based tasks did not fully show the same advantagesOnly AR walking significantly correlated with SBSoD, suggesting mobile AR better captures more natural spatial performance
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 23 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


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