Impact of the virtual reality on the neural representation of an environment

Emmanuel Mellet, Laetitia Laou, Laurent Petit, Laure Zago, Bernard Mazoyer, Nathalie Tzourio-Mazoyer
Hum. Brain Mapp.. 2009-12-04; 31(7): 1065-1075
DOI: 10.1002/hbm.20917

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1. Hum Brain Mapp. 2010 Jul;31(7):1065-75. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20917.

Impact of the virtual reality on the neural representation of an environment.

Mellet E(1), Laou L, Petit L, Zago L, Mazoyer B, Tzourio-Mazoyer N.

Author information:
(1)CI-NAPS, UMR 6232, CNRS, CEA, Université de Caen, Caen, France.

Despite the increasing use of virtual reality, the impact on cerebral
representation of topographical knowledge of learning by virtual reality rather
than by actual locomotion has never been investigated. To tackle this challenging
issue, we conducted an experiment wherein participants learned an immersive
virtual environment using a joystick. The following day, participants’ brain
activity was monitored by functional magnetic resonance imaging while they
mentally estimated distances in this environment. Results were compared with that
of participants performing the same task but having learned the real version of
the environment by actual walking. We detected a large set of areas shared by
both groups including the parieto-frontal areas and the parahippocampal gyrus.
More importantly, although participants of both groups performed the same mental
task and exhibited similar behavioral performances, they differed at the brain
activity level. Unlike real learners, virtual learners activated a
left-lateralized network associated with tool manipulation and action semantics.
This demonstrated that a neural fingerprint distinguishing virtual from real
learning persists when subjects use a mental representation of the learnt
environment with equivalent performances.

(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

DOI: 10.1002/hbm.20917
PMID: 19967769 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus