Along with deficits in spatial cognition, a decline in body-related information is observed in aging and is thought to contribute to impairments in navigation, memory, and space perception. According to the embodied cognition theories, bodily and environmental information play a crucial role in defining cognitive representations. Thanks to the possibility to involve body-related information, manipulate environmental stimuli, and add multisensory cues, virtual reality is one of the best candidates for spatial memory rehabilitation in aging for its embodied potential. However, current virtual neurorehabilitation solutions for aging and neurodegenerative diseases are in their infancy. Here, we discuss three concepts that could be used to improve embodied representations of the space with virtual reality. The virtual bodily representation is the combination of idiothetic information involved during virtual navigation thanks to input/output devices; the spatial affordances are environmental or symbolic elements used by the individual to act in the virtual environment; finally, the virtual enactment effect is the enhancement on spatial memory provided by actively (cognitively and/or bodily) interacting with the virtual space and its elements. Theoretical and empirical findings will be presented to propose innovative rehabilitative solutions in aging for spatial memory and navigation.
- virtual reality