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Andrew Clement, James Brockmole; Action-Based Compression of Spatial Memory for Individual and Nested Environments. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):270. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/16.12.270.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Physically interacting with all objects in an environment leads to underestimation of inter-object distances, as well as the overall size of the environment (Thomas et al., 2013). Here, we assessed whether interacting with a subset of objects could compress the remembered spatial layout of all objects, both in individual and nested environments. In Experiment 1, half of participants visually inspected five objects in a room, while the other half picked up and manipulated these objects. Participants then estimated the distance between each pair of objects from memory. Participants who manually inspected the objects recalled shorter object-pair distances than those who passively viewed them (t(76) = 2.07, p = .042), revealing compressed memory for the spatial layout. In Experiment 2, participants manually or visually inspected the same five objects, but passively viewed five additional objects located around the periphery of the room (no spatial organization was apparent from this layout). Participants who manually inspected the central five objects recalled shorter object-pair distances for all objects in the room, while those passively viewed the objects did not (F(1,59) = 5.36, p = .024). Thus, interacting with only a subset of objects compressed spatial memory for the entire environment. In Experiment 3, a physical boundary between the central and surrounding objects was added, creating two nested environments. Manual inspection did not affect memory for object-pair distances (F(1,48) = .304, p = .584), suggesting that the influence of action is limited to a single environment. In this case, biases in spatial memory for objects in adjacent and nested environments (McNamara, 1986; Huttenlocher et al., 1991) played a greater role in shaping participants' memory of the layouts. For example, participants in Experiment 3 recalled shorter overall distances than those in Experiment 2, and biased their memory for spatial locations away from environmental boundaries.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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