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John W. Philbeck, Shannon O'Leary; Path integration precision is increased near familiar destinations. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):147. doi: 10.1167/6.6.147.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
PURPOSE. For many, there is a subjective sense of certainty about one's current location when walking in familiar environments, even without vision. One consequence of this could be that self-location updating via path integration is enhanced in the vicinity of familiar locations. METHOD. To test this idea, we asked 24 observers to walk without vision to 2 previously-viewed targets, seen outdoors in an open field. All paths consisted of 3 straight segments separated by 2 turns, with the first segment being determined by the experimenter (16 trials total). Group 1 always started from the same origin, while Group 2 moved to another origin halfway through testing. In a critical manipulation, for Group 2, the ideal final segment would take them to the previous (i.e., familiar) origin. The starting locations were counterbalanced within and between groups. RESULTS. Straight-line distance errors from the final destination were similar for both groups, averaging 2.1 m for paths totaling 14.10 and 15.58 m long. There was a trend in Group 2 toward more tightly-clustered final stopping locations (within-subjects) for the (familiar) final destination (p = .057). The mean dispersions around the within-subject centroids were 1.51 m (Group 1) and 1.16 m (Group 2). CONCLUSION. Navigating via path integration may be facilitated when the destination is a familiar location. Here, the facilitation was primarily in terms of decreased variable error. More extensive familiarization may intensify this effect.
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