Spatial navigation, which involves higher cognitive functions, is frequently implemented in daily activities, and is critical to the participation of human beings in mainstream environments. Virtual reality is an expanding tool, which enables on one hand the assessment of the cognitive functions involved in spatial navigation, and on the other the rehabilitation of patients with spatial navigation difficulties. Topographical disorientation is a frequent deficit among patients suffering from neurological diseases. The use of virtual environments enables the information incorporated into the virtual environment to be manipulated empirically. But the impact of manipulations seems differ according to their nature (quantity, occurrence, and characteristics of the stimuli) and the target population.
We performed a systematic review of research on virtual spatial navigation covering the period from 2005 to 2015. We focused first on the contribution of virtual spatial navigation for patients with brain injury or schizophrenia, or in the context of ageing and dementia, and then on the impact of visual or auditory stimuli on virtual spatial navigation.
On the basis of 6521 abstracts identified in 2 databases (Pubmed and Scopus) with the keywords « navigation » and « virtual », 1103 abstracts were selected by adding the keywords “ageing”, “dementia”, “brain injury”, “stroke”, “schizophrenia”, “aid”, “help”, “stimulus” and “cue”; Among these, 63 articles were included in the present qualitative analysis.
Unlike pencil-and-paper tests, virtual reality is useful to assess large-scale navigation strategies in patients with brain injury or schizophrenia, or in the context of ageing and dementia. Better knowledge about both the impact of the different aids and the cognitive processes involved is essential for the use of aids in neurorehabilitation.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Spatial navigation, Virtual reality, Brain-damaged patients, Ageing, Stimuli, Aid