Using Nature-based Virtual Reality for Improving Mood and Stress

The full title of this project is: "Using a Nature-based Virtual Reality Cognitive Engagement Environment for Improving Mood and Stress States in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment."

Using state-of-the-art virtual-reality technology as a means of promoting positive affect, the current research will examine the efficacy of a “Virtual Healing Garden” to improve mood and stress states in older adults with MCI. The VR environment will be tailored to the specific needs of this elderly population through expert analysis and participant feedback, and it will be presented using a portable, low-cost, off-the-shelf display that can be adapted to various treatment contexts to improve its accessibility. The researchers will:

  1. Use an evidence-based approach to design a nature-based virtual reality cognitive engagement environment;
  2. Conduct pilot tests to examine the utility of this environment for improving mood and stress states in elderly adults with MCI; and
  3. Utilize participant feedback to improve the platform’s effectiveness in promoting positive affect for this population.

Roles and responsibilities 

The students will involve in data collection activities in Tompkins County closely working with Lifelong Institute. Lifelong is a local organization with a mission of enhancing the lives of older adults in Tompkins County. The students will work with other lab members at Cornell's Design & Augmented Intelligence Lab in developing virtual reality and data collection protocol. Then they will assist the team in data collection with older adults in downtown Ithaca, followed by data analysis toward the end of summer. They will be involved in using a novel technological solution to provide positive emotional support and mood enhancement for the older adult population in Tompkins County.

Qualifications and previous coursework

This opportunity is available to students in Cornell University's College of Human Ecology.

Learning outcomes 

  • Using novel technologies for older adults
  • Teamwork
  • Behavioral data analysis
  • Usability experimental design