This paper describes a methodology based on human judgments of memory awareness states for assessing the simulation fidelity of a virtual environment (VE) in relation to its real scene counterpart. To demonstrate the distinction between task performance-based approaches and additional human evaluation of cognitive awareness states, a photorealistic VE was created. Resulting scenes displayed on a head-mounted display (HMD) with or without head tracking and desktop monitor were then compared to the real-world task situation they represented, investigating spatial memory after exposure. Participants described how they completed their spatial recollections by selecting one of four choices of awareness states after retrieval in an initial test and a retention test a week after exposure to the environment. These reflected the level of visual mental imagery involved during retrieval, the familiarity of the recollection and also included guesses, even if informed. Experimental results revealed variations in the distribution of participants' awareness states across conditions while, in certain cases, task performance failed to reveal any. Experimental conditions that incorporated head tracking were not associated with visually induced recollections. Generally, simulation of task performance does not necessarily lead to simulation of the awareness states involved when completing a memory task. The general premise of this research focuses on how tasks are achieved, rather than only on what is achieved. The extent to which judgments of human memory recall, memory awareness states, and presence in the physical and VE are similar provides a fidelity metric of the simulation in question.

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