VR aftereffect and the relation of cybersickness and cognitive performance

  • Justin Maximilian MittelstaedtEmail author
  • Jan Wacker
  • Dirk Stelling
Original Article


The purpose of the study was the investigation of VR-induced aftereffects on various basic cognitive abilities and its relationship with cybersickness. Previous studies suggest an adverse effect of VR exposure on simple reaction times. Aftereffects on other basic cognitive abilities have rarely been studied. Sixty participants performed a test battery, that consisted of five different tests, prior and after the immersion into a VR bike application. Participants were assigned to three different experimental conditions using different kinds of displays, motion control devices. Twenty additional participants acted as a control group. Reaction times of simple (χ2(3) = 140.77; p < .001) and choice reaction tasks (two choice: χ2(3) = 66.87; p < .001; four choice: χ2(3) = 55.48; p < .001) deteriorated after VR exposure but remained stable or improved in the control group not exposed to VR. Changes in performance were only weakly related to degrees of cybersickness (.04 < r < .28). We propose a general aftereffect of VR exposure on reaction times that is only slightly related to subjective degrees of cybersickness. Taken together, however, usage of VR systems, even if inducing moderate levels of cybersickness, leads only to minor decrements of cognitive performance.


Cybersickness Cognitive performance Head-mounted displays Reaction times 


  1. Bates D, Maechler M, Bolker B, Walker S (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. J Stat Softw 67:1–48. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bertolini G, Straumann D (2016) Moving in a moving world: a review on vestibular motion sickness. Front Neurol 7:14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bos JE (2015) Less sickness with more motion and/or mental distraction. J Vestib Res 25:23–33. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Corsi PM (1972) Memory and the medial temporal region of the brain (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from National Library of AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  5. Dahlman J, Sjors A, Lindstrom J, Ledin T, Falkmer T (2009) Performance and autonomic responses during motion sickness. Hum Factors 51:56–66. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Deary IJ, Liewald D, Nissan J (2011) A free, easy-to-use, computer-based simple and four-choice reaction time programme: the Deary–Liewald reaction time task. Behav Res Methods 43:258–268. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fernandez-Ruiz J, Wong W, Armstrong IT, Flanagan JR (2011) Relation between reaction time and reach errors during visuomotor adaptation. Behav Brain Res 219:8–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ganis G, Kievit R (2015) A new set of three-dimensional shapes for investigating mental rotation processes: validation data and stimulus set. J Open Psychol Data. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Golding JF, Kerguelen M (1992) A comparison of the nauseogenic potential of low-frequency vertical versus horizontal linear oscillation. Aviat Space Environ Med 63:491–497Google Scholar
  10. Harm DL, Taylor LC, Bloomberg JJ (2007) Adaptive changes in sensorimotor coordination and motion sickness following repeated exposures to virtual environments. NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Meeting, League CityGoogle Scholar
  11. Helland A, Lydersen S, Lervåg L-E, Jenssen GD, Mørland J, Slørdal L (2016) Driving simulator sickness: impact on driving performance, influence of blood alcohol concentration, and effect of repeated simulator exposures. Accid Anal Prev 94:180–187. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Howarth PA, Hodder SG (2008) Characteristics of habituation to motion in a virtual environment. Displays 29:117–123. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Johnson DM (2005) Simulator sickness research summary. U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Ft. Rucker, AlabamaGoogle Scholar
  14. Kennedy RS, Berbaum KS, Allgood GO, Lane NE, Lilienthal MG, Baltzey DR (1987) Etiological significance of equipment features and pilot history in simulator sickness. In: AGARD conference proceedings no. 433 motion cues in flight simulation and simulator induced sickness, Neuilly-Sur-Seine, FranceGoogle Scholar
  15. Kennedy RS, Fowlkes JE, Lilienthal MG (1993a) Postural and performance changes following exposures to flight simulators. Aviat Space Environ Med 64:912–920Google Scholar
  16. Kennedy RS, Lane NE, Berbaum KS, Lilienthal MG (1993b) Simulator Sickness Questionnaire: an enhanced method for quantifying simulator sickness. Int J Aviat Psychol 3:203–220. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kessels RP, van Zandvoort MJ, Postma A, Kappelle LJ, de Haan EH (2000) The Corsi block-tapping task: standardization and normative data. Appl Neuropsychol 7:252–258. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Klosterhalfen S, Muth ER, Kellermann S, Meissner K, Enck P (2008) Nausea induced by vection drum: contributions of body position. Vis Pattern Gender Aviat Space Environ Med 79:384–389. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kolasinski EM (1995) Simulator sickness in virtual environments (Technical Report 1027). vol Technical Report 1027. U.S. Army Research Institute, Alexandria, VIGoogle Scholar
  20. Levine ME, Stern RM (2002) Spatial task performance, task differences, and motion sickness susceptibility. Percept Mot Skills 95:425–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ling Y, Nefs HT, Brinkman W-P, Qu C, Heynderickx I (2013) The relationship between individual characteristics and experienced presence. Comput Hum Behav 29:1519–1530. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lo S, Andrews S (2015) To transform or not to transform: using generalized linear mixed models to analyse reaction time data. Front Psychol 6:1171. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McCauley ME, Sharkey TJ (1992) Cybersickness: perception of self-motion in virtual environments. Presence Teleoper Virtual Environ 1:311–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mittelstaedt J, Wacker J, Stelling D (2018) Effects of display type and motion control on cybersickness in a virtual bike simulator. Displays 51:43–50. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mullen NW, Weaver B, Riendeau JA, Morrison LE, Bédard M (2010) Driving performance and susceptibility to simulator sickness: are they related? Am J Occup Ther 64:288–295. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Muth ER (2009) The challenge of uncoupled motion: duration of cognitive and physiological aftereffects. Hum Factors 51:752–761. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Muttray A et al (2013) Further development of a commercial driving simulation for research in occupational medicine. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 26:949–965. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nalivaiko E, Davis SL, Blackmore KL, Vakulin A, Nesbitt KV (2015) Cybersickness provoked by head-mounted display affects cutaneous vascular tone, heart rate and reaction time. Physiol Behav 151:583–590. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nesbitt K, Davis S, Blackmore K, Nalivaiko E (2017) Correlating reaction time and nausea measures with traditional measures of cybersickness. Displays 48:1–8. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Parker DE, Harm DL (1992) Mental rotation: a key to mitigation of motion sickness in the virtual environment? Presence Teleoper Virtual Environ 1:329–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Peirce JW (2007) PsychoPy–Psychophysics software in Python. J Neurosci Methods 162(1–2):8–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. R Core Team (2016) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  33. Reason JT, Brand JJ (1975) Motion sickness. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. Rebenitsch L, Owen C (2016) Review on cybersickness in applications and visual displays. Virtual Real 20:101–125. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shephard RN, Metzler J (1971) Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects. Science 171:701–703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Smith A, Brice C, Leach A, Tiley M, Williamson S (2004) Effects of upper respiratory tract illnesses in a working population. Ergonomics 47:363–369. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stoet G (2011) Sex differences in search and gathering skills. Evol Hum Behav 32:416–422. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sugano Y, Keetels M, Vroomen J (2009) Adaptation to motor-visual and motor-auditory temporal lags transfer across modalities. Exp Brain Res 201:393–399. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Treisman AM, Gelade G (1980) A feature-integration theory of attention. Cognit Psychol 12:97–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Uliano KC, Lambert EY, Kennedy RS, Sheppard DJ (1986) The effects of asynchronous visual delays on simulator flight performance and the development of simulator sickness symptomatology. (Technical Report NAVTRASYSCEN 85-D-0026-1, AD-A180 196). Naval Training Systems Center, Orlando, FLGoogle Scholar
  41. van den Berg J, Neely G (2006) Performance on a simple reaction time task while sleep deprived. Percept Mot Skills 102:589–599. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Walker AD, Gomer JA, Muth ER (2007) The effect of input device on performance of a driving task in an uncoupled motion environment. In: Proceedings of the 51st annual meeting of the human factors and ergonomics society, Santa Barbara, CAGoogle Scholar
  43. Waltemate T, Senna I, Hülsmann F, Rohde M, Kopp S, Ernst M, Botsch M (2016) The impact of latency on perceptual judgments and motor performance in closed-loop interaction in virtual reality. In: Proceedings of the 22nd ACM conference on virtual reality software and technology, pp 27–35.
  44. Warner HD, Serfoss GL, Baruch TM, Hubbard DC (1993) Flight simulator-induced sickness and visual displays evaluation (AL/HR-TR-1993-0056). vol AL/HR-TR-1993-0056. Aircrew Training Research Division, Williams Air Force Base, AZGoogle Scholar
  45. Welford AT (1980) Relationships between reaction time and fatigue, stress, age and sex. In: Welford AT (ed) Reaction times. Academic Press, London, pp 321–354Google Scholar
  46. Wickham H (2009) ggplot2: Elegant graphics for data analysis. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin Maximilian Mittelstaedt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jan Wacker
    • 2
  • Dirk Stelling
    • 1
  1. 1.German Aerospace Center (DLR)HamburgGermany
  2. 2.University of HamburgHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations