A Feasibility Study with Image-Based Rendered Virtual Reality in Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 18;11(3):e0151487. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151487. eCollection 2016.


Virtual Reality (VR) has emerged as a promising tool in many domains of therapy and rehabilitation, and has recently attracted the attention of researchers and clinicians working with elderly people with MCI, Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. Here we present a study testing the feasibility of using highly realistic image-based rendered VR with patients with MCI and dementia. We designed an attentional task to train selective and sustained attention, and we tested a VR and a paper version of this task in a single-session within-subjects design. Results showed that participants with MCI and dementia reported to be highly satisfied and interested in the task, and they reported high feelings of security, low discomfort, anxiety and fatigue. In addition, participants reported a preference for the VR condition compared to the paper condition, even if the task was more difficult. Interestingly, apathetic participants showed a preference for the VR condition stronger than that of non-apathetic participants. These findings suggest that VR-based training can be considered as an interesting tool to improve adherence to cognitive training in elderly people with cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Apathy
  • Attention
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / therapy
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Dementia / therapy
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy / methods*

Grants and funding

This study was supported by a grant from the FP7 European Commission Seventh Framework Programme VERVE project (Vanquishing fear and apathy through e-inclusion: http://www.verveconsortium.com/), by the Innovation Alzheimer Association, and by the Lions district Provence-Alpes Côte d’azur. The study has been realized in the ecological room of the Edmond et Lily Safra center at the Institut Claude Pompidou. Disney Research Los Angeles provided support in the form of salaries for authors [JO], but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.