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Jayne Fry, James Nolan; Navigation strategies utilized by sight altered individuals. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):762. doi: 10.1167/7.9.762.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The ability to navigate in ones environment is an essential skill. A skill that requires individuals to posses numerous cognitive skills including sensing, attention, identifying destination, assessing and avoiding hazards developing short-cuts, planning trajectories and executing plans. Navigating successfully in an environment requires utilizing such skills and choosing optimal navigational strategies to determine an effective route. Various strategies may be used such as landmark, path integration, or piloting; to reference previous research see (Barlow, 1964; Riser, Guth, and Hill, 1982). Sholl (1987) as well as, Siegal and White (1975) indicate the importance of picture like images of spatial information and their effect on an individual's ability to navigate. These cognitive skills along with spatial knowledge or mental representation enables individuals to solve spatial and navigation problems. These processes plus sensory information, along with strategies utilized during exploration of a new environment appear to combine and develop into a cognitive spatial representation, which are created and used by all. The purpose of this study was to investigate the process, formation, and role of cognitive maps or mental representations of sight altered individuals in relation to navigational strategies, as compared to those possessing standard vision and the effectiveness of those strategies. It was hypothesized that the process of forming mental representations for the purpose of navigation is qualitatively different, but effective in sight altered individuals as compared to standard vision individuals. Our results indicate that mental representations, exploration strategies, spatial knowledge, and navigation of a novel environment by sight altered individuals (congenitally blind and late onset blind) are equal to or as effective as those employed by sighted controls. The varying level of visual experience did not reveal any significant differences in effectiveness of completing tasks.
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