A comparison between computerised versus immersive virtual reality assessment of working memory and processing speed

Sarah MacPherson, University of Edinburgh, White - British, United Kingdom
Andrea Lizarraga, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Aristotelis Ferentinos, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Agapi Papadopoulou, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Panagiotis Kourtesis, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece


Neuropsychological assessments typically involve paper-and-pencil or non-immersive computerised testing formats. However, the results derived from such assessments may not reflect how an individual performs in the real world. Therefore, the tests lack ecological validity in terms of the complexity and cognitive demands of everyday tasks. Immersive virtual reality (VR) is now being considered a more ecologically valid assessment of cognitive abilities. This study will compare the usability and user experience of computerized and VR assessment methods while also examining the various factors that may influence performance.

Participants and Methods:

Sixty-six participants aged between 18 and 45 years were assessed on tests of working memory (Digit Span and Corsi Blocks Forward and Backward Recall) and processing speed (Deary-Liewald Reaction Time task) administered using both computerised and immersive VR versions.


The results demonstrated significant associations between the computerised and immersive versions of the tests supporting the convergent validity of the VR tests. Furthermore, VR assessments exhibited significantly higher scores for user experience and system usability. Finally, regression models identified predictors such as age, gender, education, and gaming experience influence working memory and processing speed performance. IT skills were found to predominantly affect performance on the computerized assessments.


Our findings suggest that immersive VR has the potential to improve the ecological validity of neuropsychological assessments, while not requiring IT competency to perform the tasks. VR assessments may offer a more immersive and engaging experience for individuals, which can lead to higher levels of motivation, engagement and overall satisfaction among those undergoing neuropsychological assessments.

Category: Teleneuropsychology/ Technology

Keyword 1: ecological validity
Keyword 2: working memory
Keyword 3: assessment