Virtual environments (VE's) are becoming more and more prevalent as training tools for both military and civilian applications. The common assumption is that the more realistic the VE, the better the transfer of training to real world tasks. However, some aspects of task content and fidelity may result in stronger transfer of training than even the most high fidelity simulations. This research effort seeks to demonstrate the technical feasibility of a Perceptually-informed Virtual Environment (PerceiVE) Design Tool, capable of dynamically detecting changes in operator behavior and physiology throughout a VE experience and comparing those changes to operator behavior and physiology in real-world tasks. This approach could potentially determine which aspects of VE fidelity will have the highest impact on transfer of training. A preliminary study was conducted in which psychophysiological and performance data were compared for a visual search tasks with low and high fidelity conditions. While no significant performance effects were found across conditions, event-related potential (ERP) data revealed significant differences between the low and high fidelity stimulus conditions. These results suggest that psychophysiological measures may provide a more sensitive and objective measure for determining VE fidelity requirements.
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