The Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior is a multi-disciplinary research organization at the University of California, Santa Barbara devoted to understanding the complex interplay of computer-generated virtual environments and human behavior. ReCVEB enables researchers to conduct pioneering research and break new ground in a fast growing technological enterprise with important societal ramifications. ReCVEB facilitates the development of virtual-environment based research methods relevant to the scientific study of human behavior and advancement of the capabilities and effectiveness of virtual environment technology and software. Given the interest and expertise, both scientific and technical, of UCSB scholars, as well as the level of external funding accrued, ReCVEB has become one of the leading virtual environment research centers in the world. Immersive virtual environment technology allows one to place ambulatory individuals within illusory contexts simulating physical and social environments completely controlled by researchers. Individuals can and do act relatively unrestrictedly and in real time within such virtual worlds. At ReCVEB, members use virtual environment technology to investigate behavioral science issues scientifically. RECVEB combines the talents of researchers in many areas and offers a unique environment for conducting research using state-of-the-art immersive virtual environment technology.
Spatial cognition is an area of research that has already embraced virtual environment technology (e.g., special 1998 issue of Presence devoted to orientation and navigation). Much of the appeal of virtual environment technology is the ease with which one can create complex environments for studying spatial behavior. There are innumerable questions that lend themselves to study using virtual environment technology, including navigation, cognitive mapping of natural environments, and spatial memory; moreover, the answers to them are important for designing effective immersive virtual environments.