Acceptance and usability of immersive virtual reality in older adults with objective and subjective cognitive decline

Sara Arlati, Simona Gabriella Di Santo, Flaminia Franchini, Marta Mondellini, Beatrice Filiputti, Matilde Luchi, Federica Ratto, Giancarlo Ferrigno, Marco Sacco, Luca Greci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Virtual reality (VR) has recently emerged as a promising means for the administration of cognitive training of seniors at risk of dementia. Immersive VR could result in increased engagement and performances; however, its acceptance in older adults with cognitive deficits still has to be assessed. Objective: To assess acceptance and usability of an immersive VR environment requiring real walking and active participants' interaction. Methods: 58 seniors with mild cognitive impairment (MCI, n = 24) or subjective cognitive decline (SCD, n = 31) performed a shopping task in a virtual supermarket displayed through a head-mounted display. Subjective and objective outcomes were evaluated. Results: Immersive VR was well-accepted by all but one participant (TAM3 positive subscales > 5.33), irrespective of the extent of cognitive decline. Participants enjoyed the experience (spatial presence 3.51±0.50, engagement 3.85±0.68, naturalness 3.85±0.82) and reported negligible side-effects (SSQ: 3.74; q1-q3:0-16.83). The environment was considered extremely realistic, such as to induce potentially harmful behaviors: one participant fell while trying to lean on a virtual shelf. Older participants needed more time to conclude trials. Participants with MCI committed more errors in grocery items' selection and experienced less 'perceived control' over the environment. Conclusion: Immersive VR was acceptable and enjoyable for older adults in both groups. Cognitive deficits could induce risky behaviors, and cause issues in the interactions with virtual items. Further studies are needed to confirm acceptance of immersive VR in individuals at risk of dementia, and to extend the results to people with more severe symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1038
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Acceptance
  • Cybersickness
  • Immersive virtual reality
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Subjective cognitive decline
  • Usability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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