First-person view of one’s body in immersive virtual reality: Influence on episodic memory

Episodic memories (EMs) are recollections of contextually rich and personally relevant past events. EM has been linked to the sense of self, allowing one to mentally travel back in subjective time and re-experience past events. However, the sense of self has recently been linked to online multisensory processing and bodily self-consciousness (BSC). It is currently unknown whether EM depends on BSC mechanisms. Here, we used a new immersive virtual reality (VR) system that maintained the perceptual richness of life episodes and fully controlled the experimental stimuli during encoding and retrieval, including the participant’s body. Our data reveal a classical EM finding, which shows that memory for complex real-life like scenes decays over time. However, here we also report a novel finding that delayed retrieval performance can be enhanced when participants view their body as part of the virtual scene during encoding. This body effect was not observed when no virtual body or a moving control object was shown, thereby linking the sense of self, and BSC in particular, to EMs. The present VR methodology and the present behavioral findings will enable to study key aspects of EM in healthy participants and may be especially beneficial for the restoration of self-relevant memories in future experiments.

Published in:
PLOS ONE, 14, 3, e0197763
Other identifiers:

 Record created 2019-03-22, last modified 2019-04-18

Download fulltext

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
(Not yet reviewed)