Using Virtual Reality to explore individual differences in perception due to neurodiversity

Savickaite, Sarune (2024) Using Virtual Reality to explore individual differences in perception due to neurodiversity. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The aim of this thesis is to contribute to our understanding of individual differences in visual perception, specifically in autistic and ADHD traits as well as associated diagnosed groups; and explore the use of Virtual Reality (VR) environments to enhance communication and creative expression for these individuals. The thesis begins by introducing autism and ADHD, emphasizing the perceptual differences associated with the conditions. It also highlights the importance of a person-centric approach in research and introduces the use of drawing as a research method, as it allows the capture of subjective experiences. We do so to better understand how VR as a research platform can help us study individual differences. Previous research neglects perceptual and cognitive aspects of neurodivergence in VR research and lacks clear systemized, theoretical and methodological standards; as we demonstrate in three consecutive literature reviews on VR applications in autism research. Using mixed methods and arts-based research we provide a more comprehensive understanding of the topic. Feasibility studies investigate perceptual differences in local and global processing, using the Rey Osterrieth Complex Figure (ROCF) task and free drawing. We demonstrate a link between attention-related traits and performance on visual tasks, such as ROCF. Moreover, we introduce novel methodology for evaluating two-dimensional and three-dimensional drawings and triangulating this information with qualitative thematic analysis. Furthermore, our free drawing task reveals that simplistic immersive virtual environments are viewed favorably by autistic individuals, and participants often share their thought processes spontaneously, potentially suggesting reduction in the power imbalance between the researchers and the participants. The significance of this study is that we provide evidence for the feasibility of a new methodological approach (drawing in VR) to understand perceptual differences associated with neurodiversity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Supervisor's Name: Simmons, Dr. David and McDonnell, Dr. Neil
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84098
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2024 10:12
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2024 12:55
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84098
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