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Testing a novel method for improving wayfinding by means of a P3b Virtual Reality Visual Paradigm in normal aging

Testing a novel method for improving wayfinding by means of a P3b Virtual Reality Visual Paradigm in normal aging

Marina de Tommaso, Katia Ricci, Marianna Delussi, Anna Montemurno, Eleonora Vecchio, Antonio Brunetti and Vitoantonio Bevilacqua
de Tommaso et al. SpringerPlus (2016) 5:1297

We propose a virtual reality (VR) model, reproducing a house environment, where color modification of target places, obtainable by home automation in a real ambient, was tested by means of a P3b paradigm. The target place (bathroom door) was designed to be recognized during a virtual wayfinding in a realistic reproduction of a house environment. Different color and luminous conditions, easily obtained in the real ambient from a remote home automation control, were applied to the target and standard places, all the doors being illuminated in white (W), and only target doors colored with a green (G) or red (R) spotlight. Three different Virtual Environments (VE) were depicted, as the bathroom was designed in the aisle (A), living room (L) and bedroom (B). EEG was recorded from 57 scalp electrodes in 10 healthy subjects in the 60–80 year age range (O—old group) and 12 normal cases in the 20–30 year age range (Y—young group).

In Young group, all the target stimuli determined a significant increase in P3b amplitude on the parietal, occipital and central electrodes compared to frequent stimuli condition, whatever was the color of the target door, while in elderly group the P3b obtained by the green and red colors was significantly different from the frequent stimulus, on the parietal, occipital, and central derivations, while the White stimulus did not evoke a significantly larger P3b with respect to frequent stimulus.

The modulation of P3b amplitude, obtained by color and luminance change of target place, suggests that cortical resources, able to compensate the age-related progressive loss of cognitive performance, need to be facilitated even in normal elderly. The event-related responses obtained by virtual reality may be a reliable method to test the environmental feasibility to age-related cognitive changes.

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