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Elizabeth Chrastil, William Warren; Contributions of attention and decision-making to spatial learning. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):203. doi: 10.1167/12.9.203.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
"Active" navigation seems to yield better spatial knowledge than "passive" navigation, but there could be multiple components of active learning. We have previously examined the contribution of idiothetic information to metric survey knowledge. Here we test additional contributions of two cognitive factors to route or "graph" knowledge: (1) decision-making about one’s route, and (2) attention to relevant spatial properties. Participants learned the locations of 8 objects in an ambulatory virtual maze environment, and were tested on their graph knowledge. In Experiment 1, we manipulated decision-making during exploration in two conditions: (a) Free Walking: participants freely explored the environment for 10 minutes, providing all active components. (b) Guided Walking: participants were guided along the same paths, removing decision-making. Spatial knowledge was tested with a Graph task: participants walked from object A to object B within the maze corridors, with occasional detours. Participants in the Free Walking group reached the correct target location significantly more often than those in the Guided Walking group. In Experiment 2, we manipulated attention to spatial properties during exploration by using an orienting task. (a) Graph orienting task: One group was informed they would be tested on their knowledge of the maze layout, and performed practice trials in which they walked through the maze hallways to a target object. (b) Survey orienting task: Another group was informed they would be tested on their knowledge of object locations in space, and performed practice trials in which they turned to face the remembered location of a target object. Both groups were subsequently tested on the Graph task. Preliminary results suggest that performance improves when attention is directed to relevant spatial properties during learning. Together, these two experiments suggest that making decisions during exploration and allocating attention to environmental properties both contribute to active spatial learning.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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