Cognitive and gender factors influencing navigation in a virtual environment
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Virtual environments (VEs) are becoming popular as media for training, modelling and entertainment. Little is known, however, about the factors that affect efficient and rapid acquisition of knowledge using this technology. Five experiments examined the influence of gender, passive/active navigation, cognitive style, hemispheric activation measured by electroencephalography and display information on the acquisition of two types of navigational knowledge using a VE: route and survey knowledge. Males acquired route knowledge from landmarks faster than females. In situations where survey knowledge must be used, proficiency in visual-spatial cognition is associated with better performance. The right cerebral hemisphere appears to be more activated than the left during navigational learning in a VE. In identifying cognitive factors that influence VE navigation, these results have a number of implications in the use of VEs for training purposes and may assist in linking processes involved in navigation to a more general framework of visual-spatial processing and mental imagery.
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies