Brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) are becoming more and more popular as an input device for virtual worlds and computer games. Depending on their function, a major drawback is the mental workload associated with their use and there is significant effort and training required to effectively control them. In this paper, we present two studies assessing how mental workload of a P300-based BCI affects participants' reported sense of presence in a virtual environment (VE). In the first study, we employ a BCI exploiting the P300 event-related potential (ERP) that allows control of over 200 items in a virtual apartment. In the second study, the BCI is replaced by a gaze-based selection method coupled with wand navigation. In both studies, overall performance is measured and individual presence scores are assessed by means of a short questionnaire. The results suggest that there is no immediate benefit for visualizing events in the VE triggered by the BCI and that no learning about the layout of the virtual space takes place. In order to alleviate this, we propose that future P300-based BCIs in VR are set up so as require users to make some inference about the virtual space so that they become aware of it, which is likely to lead to higher reported presence.

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