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A comparative experimental study of visual brain event-related potentials to a working memory task: virtual reality head-mounted display versus a desktop computer screen

Aksoy, Murat; Ufodiama, Chiedu E.; Bateson, Anthony D.; Martin, Stewart; Asghar, Aziz U.R.


Murat Aksoy

Chiedu E. Ufodiama

Anthony D. Bateson

Stewart Martin

Aziz U.R. Asghar


Virtual reality head mounted display (VR HMD) systems are increasingly utilised in combination with electroencephalography (EEG) in the experimental study of cognitive tasks. The aim of our investigation was to determine the similarities/differences between VR HMD and the computer screen (CS) in response to an n-back working memory task by comparing visual electrophysiological event-related potential (ERP) waveforms (N1/P1/P3 components). The same protocol was undertaken for VR HMD and CS with participants wearing the same EEG headcap. ERP waveforms obtained with the VR HMD environment followed a similar time course to those acquired in CS. The P3 mean and peak amplitudes obtained in VR HMD were not significantly different to those obtained in CS. In contrast, the N1 component was significantly higher in mean and peak amplitudes for the VR HMD environment compared to CS at the frontal electrodes. Significantly higher P1 mean and peak amplitudes were found at the occipital region compared to the temporal for VR HMD. Our results show that successful acquisition of ERP components to a working memory task is achievable by combining VR HMD with EEG. In addition, the higher amplitude N1/P1 components seen in VR HMD indicates the potential utility of this VR modality in the investigation of early ERPs. In conclusion, the combination of VR HMD with EEG/ERP would be a useful approach to advance the study of cognitive function in experimental brain research.


Aksoy, M., Ufodiama, C. E., Bateson, A. D., Martin, S., & Asghar, A. U. (2021). A comparative experimental study of visual brain event-related potentials to a working memory task: virtual reality head-mounted display versus a desktop computer screen. Experimental Brain Research, 239(10), 3007–3022.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 19, 2021
Online Publication Date Aug 4, 2021
Publication Date 2021-10
Deposit Date Nov 28, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 9, 2022
Journal Experimental Brain Research
Print ISSN 0014-4819
Electronic ISSN 1432-1106
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 239
Issue 10
Pages 3007–3022
Keywords Virtual reality; Electroencephalography (EEG); Event-related potentials (ERPs); n-back; Cognitive workload
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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2021.
Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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