Virtual memory palaces: immersion aids recall

  • Eric Krokos
  • Catherine Plaisant
  • Amitabh Varshney
Original Article


Virtual reality displays, such as head-mounted displays (HMD), afford us a superior spatial awareness by leveraging our vestibular and proprioceptive senses, as compared to traditional desktop displays. Since classical times, people have used memory palaces as a spatial mnemonic to help remember information by organizing it spatially and associating it with salient features in that environment. In this paper, we explore whether using virtual memory palaces in a head-mounted display with head-tracking (HMD condition) would allow a user to better recall information than when using a traditional desktop display with a mouse-based interaction (desktop condition). We found that virtual memory palaces in HMD condition provide a superior memory recall ability compared to the desktop condition. We believe this is a first step in using virtual environments for creating more memorable experiences that enhance productivity through better recall of large amounts of information organized using the idea of virtual memory palaces.


Immersion Experimental methods HMD 3D navigation Visualization Psychology Training Education User study Perception Presence 



We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the anonymous reviewers who helped us refine this paper that significantly improved its presentation. We appreciate the support of the NSF Grants 14-29404, 15-64212, the State of Maryland’s MPower initiative, and the NVIDIA CUDA Center of Excellence. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the research sponsors. Lastly, we would like to thank the 40 study participants.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Maryland, College ParkCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.University of Maryland, College ParkCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.University of Maryland, College ParkCollege ParkUSA

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