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Anatomy Research International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1493135, 7 pages
Research Article

Stereopsis, Visuospatial Ability, and Virtual Reality in Anatomy Learning

Department of Anatomy, Radboud University Medical Center, 6525 GA Nijmegen, Netherlands

Correspondence should be addressed to Jan-Maarten Luursema; ln.cmuduobdar@amesruul.netraam-naj

Received 16 December 2016; Revised 9 March 2017; Accepted 30 April 2017; Published 1 June 2017

Academic Editor: Udo Schumacher

Copyright © 2017 Jan-Maarten Luursema et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A new wave of virtual reality headsets has become available. A potential benefit for the study of human anatomy is the reintroduction of stereopsis and absolute size. We report a randomized controlled trial to assess the contribution of stereopsis to anatomy learning, for students of different visuospatial ability. Sixty-three participants engaged in a one-hour session including a study phase and posttest. One group studied 3D models of the anatomy of the deep neck in full stereoptic virtual reality; one group studied those structures in virtual reality without stereoptic depth. The control group experienced an unrelated virtual reality environment. A post hoc questionnaire explored cognitive load and problem solving strategies of the participants. We found no effect of condition on learning. Visuospatial ability however did impact correct answers at and . No evidence was found for an impact of cognitive load on performance. Possibly, participants were able to solve the posttest items based on visuospatial information contained in the test items themselves. Additionally, the virtual anatomy may have been complex enough to discourage memory based strategies. It is important to control the amount of visuospatial information present in test items.