Spatial memory training in a citizen science context

Eduardo Palermo, Jeffrey Laut, Oded Nov, Paolo Cappa, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Memory deficit is one of the primary effects of intellectual disability, and has a great impact on daily life. Here, we propose a novel spatial memory training system based on a citizen science virtual environment, in which users navigate an aquatic robot in a polluted canal and identify specific objects from images acquired by the robot. A portable low-cost electroencephalography device is utilized to enhance the degree of interactivity and enable real-time estimation of the affective state of the user. We involved a cohort of 60 healthy adult subjects to evaluate users' interest, memory performance, and affective variables as a function of navigation modality (active versus passive) and interface (a traditional computer mouse versus the headset). Despite offering a higher level of difficulty, the headset was preferred over a traditional mouse control by the users, whose spatial memory performance did not vary with the navigation modality or the interface. Active navigation was found to lead to a higher level of engagement, as measured by the headset. These findings suggest the possibility of a new, effective, and entertaining form of intellectual rehabilitation with potential impact on fetal alcohol syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-46
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Affective state evaluation
  • Citizen science
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Intellectual disability
  • Spatial memory training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • General Psychology


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