The Virtual Episodic Memory Task: towards remediation in neuropsychiatric disorders.


Impairment of cognitive functioning represents a characteristic manifestation in various neuropsychiatric disorders. Schizophrenia (SZ) is characterised by significant impairment of declarative memory and executive functioning. Remediation of these cognitive functions is therefore a crucial part of the long-term care in SZ. In two pilot studies we present two variants of the virtual Episodic Memory Task (vEMT) used to assess memory for ‘what?’- ‘when?’- and ‘where?’ happened during specific events. Pilot 1: The vEMT was designed in two complex virtual environments (VEs - an open space office and a family house) and applied in a working memory paradigm. Both variants were tested in several collecting trials with increasing level of difficulty (number of items). We demonstrated a crucial role of the VE structure in the memory for item-space associations, while the temporal associations were not affected. Pilot 2: The second variant was designed to test delayed recall of all three episodic-like memory components by including the item recognition. The task shows unbalanced performance measured for individual components. Both task variants are designed for cognitive remediation in ecologically valid episodic situations, affecting both short- and long-term memory. Presented findings will be used to control the difficulty of individual components by regulation of various task parameters in the remediation program.

International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation (ICVR) - 19.-21. 6. 2017, Montreal, Canada