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Cognitive Science Research in Virtual Reality

We may not be able to explore Mars or the Moon in person, but with virtual reality (VR) we may be able to visit those places virtually.

There are many places on Earth and away from Earth where we might like to explore – for fun or for education – which are not accessible to us. Some such places may include the sunken wreck of the Titanic, the Amazon rainforest, or the Pyramids of Giza. As long as someone has been there – perhaps even just a 360-degree camera totting robot – we are able to share through the experience via virtual reality.

Through the science of photogrammetry, we are able to accurately replicate objects and locations that were scanned by lasers or photographed from multiple angles. Although it is difficult to sustain human life in extreme conditions outside of our biosphere, we can build vehicles and robots that are able to travel to such places and send us data that allows us to recreate what they see.

As virtual reality becomes a common tool in our daily life, we must concern ourselves with the effect it plays on us, psychologically and cognitively. If we can better understand how humans work, we will be able to create better experiences in virtual reality.

Cognitive scientists Petr Legkov and Krzystof Izdebski are concerned about exactly these issues. Their research covers topics such as time perception in VR, VR and memory, and Presence in VR. Among other areas of interest are biohacking for sensory augmentation, privacy in VR, neuroplasticity, and how VR can be applied to doing cognitive science research. If you would like to learn more about this, you can listen to ResearchVR podcast, where co-host Azad Balabanian discusses he latest topics in VR cognitive science research. You can find a link to the podcast here.

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