February 28, 2021

Immersive virtual reality alters selection of head-trunk coordination strategies in young children

Developing coordinated motor control is essential for competent interactions with the surrounding world, and requires a balanced multisensory integration. This integration can be challenged under altered sensory feedback, as is the case for vision in immersive virtual reality (VR). While recent works suggest that a virtual sensory environment alters visuomotor integration in healthy adults, little is known about the effects on younger individuals. Here, we assessed the development of head-trunk coordination in children aged 6 to 10 years and young adults using an immersive flight simulation and a virtual joint angle reproduction task. Contrarily to previous results, when vision was decoupled from the steering body part, only older children and adults displayed a joint (‘en-bloc’) head-torso operation mode. Our results reveal that immersive VR affects the coordination strategy in younger children, and highlight the immaturity of postural control through the inability to implement a simplified coordination strategy. These findings have implications for pediatric applications of immersive VR, and reveal its usability as an investigation tool for sensorimotor maturation.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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