You are here: Home Events Virtual Reality as a Tool for Cognitive Science Program & Abstracts

Virtual Reality as a Tool for Cognitive Science -





Manuela Macedonia
Johannes Kepler University Linz

First Steps with Virtual Trainers Teaching Second Language

This talk introduces virtual trainers (VT) with human appearance that we have employed in our research since 2013. In these studies, our goal has been to make users learn second language by means of embodiment. I report results from studies with Billie, an intelligent virtual agent that trained humans to memorize vocabulary, as well as findings on the acceptance of the agent as a trainer by adults and children. Furthermore, I will present data from a study on sentence learning with Heidi and John and from a study with Vara, a VT in augmented reality. VTs can provide several advantages: First, they can teach language through embodiment and therefore make language acquisition more efficient than audio-visual learning. Second, VTs are programmed to be supportive and to motivate the user. Third, VTs can provide personalized training and by residing in the users’ mobile devices, they are ubiquitous. Users can learn whenever and  wherever they want and can interact with the VTs in order to modify the intensity of the training. Our future vision is that intelligent VTs in mobile devices can make language training accessible to anybody at low cost and therefore enhance multilingualism.


Max M. Louwerse
Tilburg School of Humanities, Tilburg University


Cognitive Science in the Virtual Worlds: Education, Research and Corporate Partnerships

A virtual and mixed reality lab at the Tilburg University campus was built on three pillars: immersive education, interdisciplinary research, and corporate partnerships. In this presentation I will give an overview of running projects concerning each of these pillars, including the opportunities of using mixed reality in the classroom, conducting semantic association experiments in virtual rollercoasters, and using sensing technologies to predict learning gains in training scenarios.

Ineke J. M. van der Ham
Department of Health, Medical and Neuropsychology, Leiden University

Finding our Way in a Virtual World: The Use of Virtual Reality Techniques to Study Spatial Navigation

Being able to find our way around, or to navigate, is an essential human ability we rely on daily. We use it to find our refrigerator in the morning, but also to locate our hotel when we go on a trip. It is only when we lose our ability to find our way around that we realize how crucial this skill is for our survival. Getting lost can be very stressful, frightening, and have a substantial impact on one’s quality of life. Impaired navigation is a common phenomenon after stroke, as it affects around 30% of stroke patients in the chronic stage. Yet, very little standardized clinical tools exist to assess or treat this type of impairment.
Some have argued that spatial perception in virtual environments is distorted; we have studied this phenomenon and found initial evidence that such properties can be used to our advantage in a rehabilitation setting. Furthermore, real world navigation performance of stroke patients has been found to substantially overlap with their performance in virtual environments. This supports the use of virtual reality in the design of new assessment and treatment tools. I will provide an overview of our latest work on navigation ability and disability and how virtual reality techniques promise good prospects to this field of research.

Albert  Rizzo
University of Southern California
YouTube channel:

Populating Virtual Reality Worlds with Virtual Human Agents

With recent advances in Virtual Reality technology have led to the evolution of intelligent virtual humans. This has been driven by seminal research and development in the creation of highly interactive, artificially intelligent and natural language capable virtual human agents that can engage real human users in a credible fashion. Virtual human representations, no longer at the level of a prop to add context or minimal faux interaction in a virtual world, can be designed to perceive and act in a 3D virtual world, engage in face-to-face spoken dialogues with real users (and other virtual humans) and in some cases, they are capable of exhibiting human-like emotional reactions. This presentation will provide a brief rationale and overview of research that has shown the benefits derived from the use of virtual humans in healthcare applications. Recent work using intelligent virtual human agents in the role of virtual patients to train novice clinicians, as job interview/social skill trainers for persons with autism, and as online healthcare support agents will be described, along with a look into the future of this next major movement in Virtual Reality.



Last checked 2016-12-14 by Ina Grevel

Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213

Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn