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CNS Spectr. 2006 Jan;11(1):35-44.

A virtual reality scenario for all seasons: the virtual classroom.

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Institute for Creative Technologies, School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90292, USA.


Treatment and rehabilitation of the cognitive, psychological, and motor sequelae of central nervous system dysfunction often relies on assessment instruments to inform diagnosis and to track changes in clinical status. Typically, these assessments employ paper-and-pencil psychometrics, hands-on analog/computer tests, and rating of behavior within the context of real-world functional environments. Virtual reality offers the option to produce and distribute identical "standard" simulation environments in which performance can be measured and rehabilitated. Within such digital scenarios, normative data can be accumulated for performance comparisons needed for assessment/diagnosis and for treatment/rehabilitation purposes. In this manner, reusable archetypic virtual environments constructed for one purpose can also be applied for applications addressing other clinical targets. This article will provide a review of such a retooling approach using a virtual classroom simulation that was originally developed as a controlled stimulus environment in which attention processes could be systematically assessed in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This system is now being applied to other clinical targets including the development of tests that address other cognitive functions, eye movement under distraction conditions, social anxiety disorder, and the creation of an earthquake safety training application for children with developmental and learning disabilities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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