Project "Using virtual reality to investigate access, fidelity, and vividness of visual mental representations"

In this project we aim to examine featural properties of visual mental representations. Given that we are interested not only in color representation but specifically in location and orientation representation, we aim to develop a virtual reality (VR) environment to assess the fidelity of visual mental representations. Using VR, it is possible to exactly track the position, orientation, and color of objects. Participants will be presented with different objects at different positions in the virtual world. After the encoding phase, participants will execute the recall phase. In this phase, they will be presented with the previously encoded objects (random position, orientation, and color) and they will have to retrieve the exact position, orientation, and color. The key dependent variable is recall error, which is the difference between the original position, orientation, color of the objects at encoding and the estimated position, orientation, color of the objects at recall. Continuous measures are ideally suited to investigate the fidelity of detailed visual mental representations. This study will contribute to the understanding of how objects are represented in visual long-term memory.

Duration of project
01/01/2019 – 30/06/2020


  • Corinna Martarelli, assistant professor, Swiss Distance University Institute
  • Rebecca Ovalle, post-doc research associate, Swiss Distance University Institute
  • Dejan Popic, virtual reality designer, Swiss Distance University Institute
  • Laura Globig, research assistant, Swiss Distance University Institute
  • Nicolas Rothen, assistant professor, Swiss Distance University Institute


Figure: View in VR (recall phase). Participants have to position, orient, and color the previously seen object. 

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