Virtual reality measures in neuropsychological assessment: a meta-analytic review

Alexandra Voinescu, Silviu-Andrei Matu, Florin Alin Sava, Daniel David

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Virtual reality-based assessment is a new paradigm for neuropsychological evaluation, that might provide an ecological assessment, compared to paper-and-pencil or computerized neuropsychological assessment. Previous research has focused on the use of virtual reality in neuropsychological assessment, but no meta-analysis focused on the sensitivity of virtual reality-based measures of cognitive processes in measuring cognitive processes in various populations. Method: We found eighteen studies that compared the cognitive performance between clinical and healthy controls on virtual reality measures. Results: Based on a random effects model, the results indicated a large effect size in favor of healthy controls (g = .95). For executive functions, memory and visuospatial analysis, subgroup analysis revealed moderate to large effect sizes, with superior performance in the case of healthy controls. Participants’ mean age, type of clinical condition, type of exploration within virtual reality environments, and the presence of distractors were significant moderators. Conclusions: Our findings support the sensitivity of virtual reality-based measures in detecting cognitive impairment. They highlight the possibility of using virtual reality measures for neuropsychological assessment in research applications, as well as in clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-182
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Neuropsychologist
Issue number2
Early online date29 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • neuropsychological assessment
  • Virtual reality
  • ecological validity


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