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Mohammed Islam, Michael Kleiman, Elan Barenholtz; Attention Restoration Through Virtual Environments. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):265. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.10.265.
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Attentional Restoration Theory (ART) posits that attentional resources are diminished over time with constant engagement in situations requiring directed attention. However, these resources are naturally restored over time (Kaplan, 1995). Moreover, Kaplan and Kaplan (1989) have suggested that a person's attention is more quickly restored in a natural setting (e.g., a park) compared to urban environments. A multitude of studies have confirmed the beneficial effects of natural environments (e.g., Hartig, Mang, & Evans, 1991). These findings also extend to children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; Taylor & Kuo, 2009). However, with more than half of the world under urbanization, access to nature is becoming limited (Pearson & Craig, 2014). Virtual reality (VR) may help to alleviate this problem. We aimed to replicate the restorative effects of natural scenes in VR. Participants were tasked to perform an Attention Network Task (ANT) prior to and after being exposed to either a natural (a park) or neutral (a gray room) environment in VR. Participants in the natural scene condition performed ANT much quicker in the post-VR exposure than pre-VR exposure. This effect was not observed in the neutral condition. The findings imply that natural scenes in VR aid in restoring attentional resources and mimic real-world scenes. These findings enable for the manipulation and investigation the different features (e.g., openness) of nature to create an optimized natural scene for attention restoration.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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