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Title: Enhancing spatial cognition in disabled children using virtual environments
Author: Stanton, Danae Emma Beckford
ISNI:       0000 0004 2695 0039
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 1997
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In nine experiments, computer generated three-dimensional environments were used to investigate the spatial learning processes of physically disabled children. Chapter 1 reviews the literature on spatial mapping. Chapter 2 introduces the background to virtual environments, and reviews the relevant experimental work in this field. Chapter 3 developed a novel paradigm for investigating configural learning in humans, based on a shortcut study previously used with hamsters. In experiments 1-3 optimal cue arrangement was investigated. Results indicated that four large cues, rather than small or continuous cues, were required in order to complete the shortcut task successfully. Experiment 4 demonstrated the paradigm to be a successful replication of the original task and a good measure of spatial ability. Experiment 5 compared the shortcut behaviour of physically disabled children with varying degrees of mobility. Children who had had limited mobility from birth were poorer at the task than those whose mobility had deteriorated with age, supporting the hypothesis that early independent exploration is important in the development of cognitive spatial mapping ability. In Chapter 4 (experiment 6) physically disabled children explored a simulation of a school and then completed tests of spatial ability within the equivalent real school. A successful transfer of spatial skills was demonstrated and thus the potential of this technology for training. In Chapter 5, experiments 7-9 examined the effect of repeated exposure to virtual environments. Experiment 7 confirmed that the skills disabled children acquired using virtual environments improved with exposure to successive environments. To eliminate the possibility that learning was influenced by non-specific factors, experiment 8 compared 3-D exploration and 2-D (control) exploration, finding spatial learning in the former to be superior. Experiment 9 confirmed the extent of improvement in spatial skills following intensive 3-D exploration. Chapter 6 draws conclusions from the experiments and suggests ideas for further research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available