Following my most adventurous research volunteering experience (in which I underwent minor surgery in the name of science), I decided to take part in one a little more tame.  It involved sitting at a desk and carrying out a computer task.  Nice and safe.

The experiment asked the participant to walk through a virtual town (it was set up on a PC), with keyboard controls to move, and mouse control to determine the direction in which you were looking. This part of the task involved carrying a package from one building to another, and memorising the layout. After each fictional environment (there were 20 in total), I was asked to draw a map of the landscape in which I had walked, and answer some questions in which I had to recall the names of the buildings I had seen.

It was pretty repetitive, but kinda cool. I received a £10 Amazon voucher in exchange for my participation. The whole thing took about an hour.

After the experiment, I spoke with the researcher about what sort of things they were looking for. Different people tend to use different memorisation strategies, and look for patterns in different ways. I found the first few tasks a bit more difficult, probably because the controls were unfamiliar, and it was a task I’d not done before.

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