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Kasey C. Soska, Rick O. Gilmore; Optic flow aids in the formation of cognitive maps. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):137. doi: 10.1167/6.6.137.
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The presence of optic flow facilitates spatial navigation and place memory (Kirschen et al. 2000). The present study investigated the role that optic flow plays in cognitive mapping. Adult participants (n=42) were shown a video that simulated movement through a maze. The video was edited such that one group viewed fluid optic flow information (32 frames/s) and the other only viewed discontinuous (2 frames/s) optic flow. A recognition task measured the ability to correctly identify aerial views of sections of the maze near target locations (with the location of either the targets or the walls changed to generate two incorrect views in each trial). A recall task measured the ability to draw part of the maze free hand. Recognition accuracy was lower in the discontinuous condition for target position changes (p=.0039), but not for wall location changes (p=.73). There was a marginal effect of flow condition in the recognition task overall (p=0.076). Recall ability was not significantly lower in the discontinuous condition (p=.116), though the effect size was moderate. Discontinuities in optic flow may compromise the perception and subsequent processing of information about orientation and action crucial for forming an allocentric representation of the environment. Connections between the dorsal visual stream and hippocampal areas, among others, are hypothesized to underlie the contribution of optic flow to cognitive mapping.
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