The present study explored the effects of visuomotor synchrony in virtual reality during the embodiment of a full human avatar in children (aged 5–6 years) and adults. Participants viewed their virtual bodies from a first-person perspective while they moved the body during self-generated and structured movement. Embodiment was measured via questions and psychophysiological responses (skin conductance) to a virtual body-threat and during both movement conditions. Both children and adults had increased feelings of ownership and agency over a virtual body during synchronous visuomotor feedback (compared to asynchronous visuomotor feedback). Children had greater ownership compared to adults during synchronous movement but did not differ from adults on agency. There were no differences in SCRs (frequency or magnitude) between children and adults, between conditions (i.e., baseline or movement conditions) or visuomotor feedback. Collectively, the study highlights the importance of visuomotor synchrony for children’s ratings of embodiment for a virtual avatar from at least 5 years old, and suggests adults and children are comparable in terms of psychophysiological arousal when moving (or receiving a threat to) a virtual body. This has important implications for our understanding of the development of embodied cognition and highlights the considerable promise of exploring visuomotor VR experiences in children.

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This post is Copyright: Hayley Dewe,
Oscar Sill,
Simon Thurlbeck,
Robert W. Kentridge,
Dorothy Cowie | May 9, 2024
Wiley: Journal of Neuropsychology: Table of Contents