Virtual reality environment in digital examination of social language comprehension in atypically developing children

Authors: Satu Paavola, Speech and Language Pathologist (M.A.) University of Helsinki


Virtual reality environment (VRE) is an interactive, three-dimensional environment created by computer modelling (Lowood, 2015). VRE is used increasingly to study populations with communication disorders (Parsons et al., 2017, Mesa Gresa et al., 2018). In this study we investigate social gaze and language comprehension by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental language disorder (DLD) using digital VRE online tracking. We will examine whether VRE gaming intervention improves social gaze and language comprehension skills and how practice in virtual environment generalizes to social interactions in everyday life. Using machine learning based digital methods, we assess children’s social communication from real-life videos before and after the intervention.

Research team and collaborators of this study consist of experts from different sciences, such as linguistics, logopedics, psychology and technology. The research team has national collaboration with the universities of Tampere and Turku and international collaborators in Australia, Italy, and Great Britain. The research team is collaborating closely with the public sector, University hospitals, and Peili Vision Oy, the key partner in developing new VRE methods.