Navigating in a Virtual Environment: Effects of Navigation in Virtual Reality
Stevenson, Daniel E.
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Although it is generally understood that humans orient themselves spatially within an environment, the precise manner and timescale by which this is accomplished is not entirely understood. In rats, this has been studied using the Morris Water Maze task, which involves training a rat to orient itself in a three-dimensional space using environmental cues (i.e., landmarks) to navigate to a hidden platform after being dropped into a body of water. This approach is not suitable for human research participants, so prior research has used computerized alternatives. These programs provide a non-immersive experience, where participants navigate based on the limited scope of view offered by a typical computer monitor. This study will use the Oculus Rift DK2 and the Unity 5 Personal Edition game engine to design a more realistic environment with full head tracking. This facilitates an immersive virtual reality experience while also recording which environmental cues participants attend to during orientation and navigation. This will paint a more complete picture of not only where participants travel in the environment, but also how they determine where to travel.