Immersiorama - immersive, yet controlled. Cognitive Science in Virtual World, An argument for virtual reality as an improvement to laboratory

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Title: Immersiorama - immersive, yet controlled. Cognitive Science in Virtual World, An argument for virtual reality as an improvement to laboratory
Authors: Nosrat Nezami, Farbod
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Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Peter K√∂nig
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Gordon Pipa
Abstract: Neuroscience, psychology, and many other fields, such as anthropology or philosophy, try to understand our cognition and cognitive processes. However, as time passed, new views on cognition emerged. One of the newest views on cognition, known as 4E cognition, refers to embedded, embodied, extended, and enacted cognition. Alternatively, to put it in simpler terms, our cognition and cognitive processes emerge from us by being in our environment, interacting with our environment, and enacting our actions within our environment. Although the need to study human cognition from a higher perspective led to the emergence of cognitive sciences, despite these advancements, our experimental methods have stayed relatively unchanged for the past centuries. The recent trends in cognitive science and related fields lean toward real-world experimentation. The main argument for real-world experimentation is the ecological validity of our experimentation and finding. However, despite all the positive voices advertising for real-life experimentation, there are also significant concerns and voices against such a movement. Real-world is full of dynamics and sources of noises and events no one has studied in detail before. As alluring as the idea of moving out of the lab and doing experiments in real life is, the challenges of real-life experimentation should not be neglected, at least with our current methods and tool kits. However, one does not need to entirely abandon the control of the lab environment to get closer to real-life experimentation. Immersive virtual reality experiences can offer a close to the real-life and interactive foundation for conducting cognitive science experiments. Virtual reality experiments can offer the same level of control over the conditions and precision in measurements as laboratory-based experimentation yet enable a realistic, immersive environment to simulate real-life situations. This dissertation seeks to investigate the ecological validity of immersive virtual reality experimentation. The investigation tries to see if virtual reality experimentation can augment the lab-based experiments to simulate closer to real-life situations. The second point of focus is on the notion of ecological validity. Here we tried to investigate which factor among realistic cues, environment, or interaction with the environment plays a vital role in improving the findings of cognitive science experiments. This dissertation seeks to answer these questions with different experiments made and conducted using immersive virtual reality simulations. These studies first investigate virtual reality technologies' current state of the art. These experiments push the limits of what others previously performed in virtual reality experimentation in terms of immersion and realism. We studied ecological validity using these environments. This work examines the hypothesis that "realism" indeed matters and, more importantly, that realism in the interaction with the environment can give us more understanding regarding our observations. Finally, we will observe participants in their behavior using virtual reality experiments with minimal to no intervention to validate the effectiveness of virtual reality experimentation. Of course, the studies presented in this work also have further research questions to answer. These research questions include Gaze behavior during tool interaction or planning while sorting objects on a shelf is an example of investigating low-level cognitive processes. The role of perspective on the moral judgments in trolley dilemma situations or change of attitude and acceptance toward self-driving vehicles is more on the psychological aspects of cognition. However, when added together, the observations gained in each study offer solid arguments toward not only the benefits of virtual reality experimentation but the importance of studying cognition within a natural context in real work with naturalistic interactions. This dissertation provides arguments in favor of virtual reality as a suitable experimentation tool and environment in the absence of standard and precise real-life experimentation methods as a way to simulate real-life experiences in our experiments.
Subject Keywords: Virtual Reality; Real world neuroscience
Issue Date: 12-Sep-2022
License name: Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Germany
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Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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