Research areas

There is an increasing trend in the use of virtual reality (VR) in many applied areas. VR finds its rightful place in contemporary psychology and cognitive science as well. In Grey Lab we explore the influence of specific virtual environments (VEs) on human perception, decision-making and behavior. Many topics have been covered thanks to our collaboration with other institutions and researchers. Another source of research topics of interest comes from our students and their theses/research projects. Here we present several major topics investigated by our laboratory.

Learning and memory

It seems that the ancient technique of memory palaces can also work in virtual environments. Our members guided participants through virtual environments and taught them to associate different words with several objects on the way. They have proven that it is just as effective, and perhaps even more effective, to provide participants with particular associations for these word-object pairs, compared to when participants try to come up with some themselves. In another experiment, our other members replicated a well-known psychological study with divers and context-dependent memory in a virtual environment. They came to the conclusion that the known effect applies only to the male biological sex, whose memory is probably more tied to the context of the learning environment. In cooperation with the Department of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Arts and HUME Lab, other members used eye tracking to study the patterns of eye movements during text-based learning.

Visual cortex excitability

Our members collaborated with the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) on the research into visual excitability of the brain. They used magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalography to investigate differences in the excitability of the visual cortex depending on the level of subjective sensory sensitivity. Research on sensory sensitivity brings us valuable knowledge about the variability of human perception, affecting the experience of real and virtual environments.

Neural networks

Can we train neural networks to recognize stress in the human voice? Our members helped to realize this goal by providing their psychological knowledge and resources to researchers from the Faculty of Information at the University of Technology, Brno. Besides this project, our members cooperated with the University of Technology (Faculty of Information and Faculty of Civil Engineering) on many other projects focused on the technical aspects of affecting human thinking and behavior.

Driving simulations

Cognitive processes also play a significant role when driving cars in road traffic, but in the future, with the advancement of vehicle automation, the nature of this role will be transformed. Together with the Transport Research Center, our members participated in the investigation of psychological aspects affecting the speed and quality of drivers' ability to take control over an automated vehicle. In addition, they worked on a project aimed at the possibility of diagnosing psychopathological conditions using the tracking of eye-movements in drivers, as eye movements differ between some of these conditions.

Indoor navigation

As part of the wayfinding research, our members conducted a study in virtual reality, focused on various aspects of the environment, which most influence choosing the quickest path to escape a building. Their research helps design buildings in such a way that it is possible to escape them intuitively and quickly, in case of imminent danger.

Interactive 3D visualizations

Our members explored different types of virtual visualizations and their influence on the cognitive processing of presented information. Particularly, they focused on informationally equivalent visualizations presented in different user interface settings in virtual reality, such as cartographic display of contours on a 2D map or on a 3D map. In a series of experiments they compared different visualization types with respect to user performance (easiness of completing tasks, task solving strategies, processing and interpretation of displayed information). The main topic of interest was the perception and interaction with interactive 3D virtual visualizations.

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