Development and Preliminary Validation of a Virtual Reality–Based Measure of Response Inhibition Under Normal and Stressful Conditions

  • John J. DonahueEmail author
  • Sujan Shrestha


Response inhibition is a neurobehavioral construct important in understanding a range of various forms of psychopathology. Response inhibition is commonly assessed using paper-and-pencil behavioral measures and/or self-report questionnaires. Given that these assessment methods may be limited by a lack of ecological validity and retrospective recall biases, respectively, additional assessment methodologies are necessary. Virtual reality (VR) assessment may address some of the limitations of current assessment approaches in mental health. The purpose of this study was to therefore develop and preliminarily evaluate the validity of a VR-based measure of response inhibition and response inhibition under stress. Thirty-four participants completed the VR Task, as well as paper-and-pencil neurocognitive measures and self-report measures of attention and distress intolerance. Results suggest the VR Task performance converges with assessments of attention and response inhibition, and performance in the VR stressor condition is associated with perceived distress intolerance. These results, while highly preliminary, suggest that VR assessment of neurocognitive constructs relevant to mental health is feasible and a promising line of research.


Virtual reality Response inhibition, assessment Distress tolerance 



The authors would like to express our gratitude to Stephen Shaul and Kelsey Griffin for their assistance in the development of the VR simulation and running study sessions.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Prior to initiation of this study, approval was obtained by the University of Baltimore Institutional Review Board (IRB). All participants acknowledged written informed consent before study participation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Applied Behavioral SciencesUniversity of BaltimoreBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Division of Science, Information Arts and TechnologiesUniversity of BaltimoreBaltimoreUSA

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