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The Effect of Memory Schemas on Object Recognition in Virtual Environments

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 22:49 authored by Katerina Mania, Andrew Robinson, Karen R Brandt
Prior theoretical work on memory schemas, an influential concept of memory from the field of cognitive psychology, is presented for application to fidelity of computer graphics simulations. The basic assumption is that an individuals prior experience will influence how he or she perceives, comprehends and remembers new information in a scene. Schemas are knowledge structures; a scene could incorporate objects that fit into a specific context or schema (e.g. an academics office) referred to as consistent objects. A scene could also include objects that are not related to the schema in place referred to as inconsistent objects. In this paper, we describe ongoing development of a rendering framework related to scene perception based on schemas. An experiment was carried out to explore the effect of object type and rendering quality on object memory recognition in a room. The computer graphics simulation, rendered using radiosity, was displayed on a Head Mounted Display (HMD) utilizing stereo imagery and head tracking. 36 participants across three conditions of varied rendering quality of the same space were exposed to the computer graphics environment and completed a memory recognition task. Results revealed that schema consistent elements of the scene were more likely to be recognized than inconsistent information. Overall higher confidence ratings were assigned for consistent compared to inconsistent items. Total object recognition was better for the mid-quality condition compared to the low-quality one. The presence of shadow information, though, did not affect recognition of consistent or inconsistent objects, therefore low quality of rendering was adequate for better memory recognition of consistent objects. Further explorations of the effect of schemas on spatial awareness in synthetic worlds could lead to identifying areas of a computer graphics scene that require better quality of rendering as well as areas that lower fidelity could be sufficient. The ultimate goal of this work is to simulate a perceptual process rather than physics.


Publication status

  • Published


Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments




Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press





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  • Informatics Publications


Originality: We describe ongoing development of a novel real-time rendering framework related to scene perception based on memory schemas. This could lead to an entirely novel selective-rendering algorithm which assigns varied rendering quality to scene objects based on whether they belong to the schema in context. This work is highly interdisciplinary. Rigour: Experiments are conducted formally according to procedures adopted from memory research on schemas. Significance: It showcased for the first time, that memory schemas could lead to optimizations of computations power, simulating cognition rather than physics. Initial results indicated that objects which belong to the scene's context such as, for example, a desk in an academic's office, could be rendered in lower quality because they are expected to be found in a scene representing an office. Impact: This work had been funded by EPSRC with Hewlett Packard Laboratories as a collaborator (grant GR/58386/01) and it is highly interdisciplinary co-investigators at the Dept. of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol.

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