Virtual reality experiments with physiological measures

Raphael P. Weibel*, Jascha Grübel, Hantao Zhao, Tyler Thrash, Dario Meloni, Christoph Hölscher, Victor R. Schinazi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Virtual reality (VR) experiments are increasingly employed because of their internal and external validity compared to real-world observation and laboratory experiments, respectively. VR is especially useful for geographic visualizations and investigations of spatial behavior. In spatial behavior research, VR provides a platform for studying the relationship between navigation and physiological measures (e.g., skin conductance, heart rate, blood pressure). Specifically, physiological measures allow researchers to address novel questions and constrain previous theories of spatial abilities, strategies, and performance. For example, individual differences in navigation performance may be explained by the extent to which changes in arousal mediate the effects of task difficulty. However, the complexities in the design and implementation of VR experiments can distract experimenters from their primary research goals and introduce irregularities in data collection and analysis. To address these challenges, the Experiments in Virtual Environments (EVE) framework includes standardized modules such as participant training with the control interface, data collection using questionnaires, the synchronization of physiological measurements, and data storage. EVE also provides the necessary infrastructure for data management, visualization, and evaluation. The present paper describes a protocol that employs the EVE framework to conduct navigation experiments in VR with physiological sensors. The protocol lists the steps necessary for recruiting participants, attaching the physiological sensors, administering the experiment using EVE, and assessing the collected data with EVE evaluation tools. Overall, this protocol will facilitate future research by streamlining the design and implementation of VR experiments with physiological sensors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58318
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number138
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior
  • Cognitive science
  • Issue 138
  • Navigation
  • Physiological sensors
  • Spatial cognition
  • Virtual environments
  • Virtual reality


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