While modern virtual reality (VR) technology is fast moving into the educational environment, little research has been made on how these tools affect learning outcomes,media reported. Now a new study from Japan suggests that VR may inhibit the effective formation of visual memory and, in some cases, lead to poor educational outcomes.
The new study focuses on differences in visual memory retention between active VR and passive VR. Active VR refers to the response of a headset (HMD) to subjective action that enables the user to conduct a subjective survey of the environment from different visual perspectives, and passive VR refers to providing a separately locked view regardless of the head movement of the head socket.
It is reported that 40 subjects took part in the study, of which active and passive accounted for half. Each subject watched a video in a museum with 10 paintings by Peter Paul Rubens and 10 paintings by Nicholas Pussan, both famous Baroque artists. After viewing and two weeks later, all participants were subjected to a series of memory tests.
Interestingly, while the memory test results of both the positive and negative groups were similar after the viewing, the results of the positive group decreased after two weeks, while the memory of the negative group performed well. The study suggests that active VR viewing reduces a person’s ability to form strong visual memories to some extent.
Exactly what underpins these findings is unclear, but the researchers have some hypotheses to explain. The simplest explanation is that participants in the active viewing group spend less time watching the painting because they can choose to see other things in the room. Another hypothesis is that increased immersion in active VR can place a greater cognitive load on the brain, which ultimately inhibits effective visual memory formation. A recent eegogram study of cognitive processes during learning suggests that an immersive VR experience may inhibit learning because of the cognitive load of the experience.
The researchers’ next step is to study how active VR viewing disrupts visual memory formation and whether certain types of object learning, such as sculpting learning or deep-sensory learning, are enhanced by the active 3D VR experience.
“Based on current research, in order to use HMD more effectively, VR should be provided with specific content and guidance to help students remember more correctly and more effectively,” the researchers concluded. “
The study was published in Frontiers in Psychology.