Brianna's Case Study

Virtual Worlds Case Study

VRCPAT-Virtual Reality Cognitive Performance Assessment Test

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How does it work?

VRCPAT works by simulating an environment using an immersive head-mounted display (HMD). It is a three-dimensional virtual world that is composed of a virtual city and various Humvee scenarios.

Design/Tech Specs:
• Designed to run on a Pentium IV notebook with one gigabyte RAM and a 128 megabyte graphics card
• Uses USC's FlatWorld Simulation Control Architecture (FSCA) which enables a network-centric system of client displays driven by a single controller application
• Real-time 3-D scenes are presented using Numerical Design Limited's (NDL's) Gamebryo graphics engine
• The content was edited and exported to the engine using Alias's Maya software
• 3-D visual imagery is presented using the eMagin z800
• Navigation through the scenario uses a USB Logitech game pad device

When the VRCPAT is doing an assessment, the subjects undergo periods of "low intensity" (safe zones) and "high intensity" (ambushes). The complexity of the stimulus was also changed when using the VRCPAT by adding a random number on the windshield of the Humvee that changed positions and display time based on the intensity the subject was experiencing at the time. VRCPAT looks like it will be the future of similar neuropsychological assessments because it is designed in a way that allows for Verisimilitude ( the presentation of realistic environments that reflect activities of daily living) and Veridicality (flexibility in terms of the independent variables that could be studied with this method once the psychometric properties of the standardized test are determined).

How is it used?

Virtual Worlds such as VRCPAT are being used to address things like anxiety disorders, pain distraction, and posttraumatic stress disorder. They are also used to assess certain neurocognitive processes such as attention and executive functioning, memory, and visuospatial abilities.

In particular, VRCPAT was used in a test involving six West Point cadets and fifteen University of Southern California students. The VRCPAT uses virtual environments to complete a neuropsychological evaluation to assess people immersed in ecologically valid virtual scenarios. Specifically, the VRCPAT assesses user sensory, perceptual, and neurocognitive performance on various tasks. The data gleaned from the analyses provides the opportunity to implement systems that can exploit the capabilities of the nervous system instead of depending on human adaptation to improve human-computer interactions.

"Neurocognitive Workload Assessment Using Virtual Reality Cognitive Performance Assessment Tests"