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Using virtual reality environments to investigate cognitive function and psychological disorders


The School of Psychology has developed a large laboratory for developing immersive virtual environments. I am looking for students to use these tools to develop tests for assessing basic psychological functions, such as memory, planning, thinking, and perception, and daily function. These tools can then be used to assess impairments in neuropsychological patients and/or to develop novel therapies for these patients. 

These tests can be developed with our motion capture laboratory, in which people can explore fully interactive environments, and/or with portable smartphone virtual or augmented reality technologies in which people will be able to continually use our tests or therapies at home or in naturalistic non-laboratory settings.


Dr Ian Johnston.

Research location

School of Psychology

Program type



Potential applications of these technologies can be:
1. Assessing cognitive disorders in dementia, neuropsychological impairments, sleep disorders, head injuries, etc.;2. Exposure therapies in which virtual or augmented reality is used in treatments for phobias (e.g., virtual spiders, snakes, public speaking, etc), substance use disorders (e.g., virtual exposures to drug-associated situations or paraphenalia);3. Cognitive rehabilitation training.

Additional information

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2141

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