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The assessment of cognitive functions such as prospective memory, episodic memory, attention, and executive functions benefits from an ecologically valid approach to better understand how performance outcomes generalize to everyday life. Immersive virtual reality (VR) is considered capable of simulating real-life situations to enhance ecological validity. The present study attempted to validate the Virtual Reality Everyday Assessment Lab (VR-EAL), an immersive VR neuropsychological battery, against an extensive paper-and-pencil neuropsychological battery.
Forty-one participants (21 females) were recruited: 18 gamers and 23 non-gamers who attended both an immersive VR and a paper-and-pencil testing session. Bayesian Pearson’s correlation analyses were conducted to assess construct and convergent validity of the VR-EAL. Bayesian t-tests were performed to compare VR and paper-and-pencil testing in terms of administration time, similarity to real-life tasks (i.e., ecological validity), and pleasantness.
VR-EAL scores were significantly correlated with their equivalent scores on the paper-and-pencil tests. The participants’ reports indicated that the VR-EAL tasks were significantly more ecologically valid and pleasant than the paper-and-pencil neuropsychological battery. The VR-EAL battery also had a shorter administration time.
The VR-EAL appears as an effective neuropsychological tool for the assessment of everyday cognitive functions, which has enhanced ecological validity, a highly pleasant testing experience, and does not induce cybersickness.
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