September 2021
Volume 21, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2021
Where do I go from here?: Spatial navigation strategy and disorientation when switching environments
Author Affiliations
  • Karolina Krzys
    Queen's University
  • Piotr Francuz
    John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
  • Monica Castelhano
    Queen's University
Journal of Vision September 2021, Vol.21, 2804. doi:
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      Karolina Krzys, Piotr Francuz, Monica Castelhano; Where do I go from here?: Spatial navigation strategy and disorientation when switching environments. Journal of Vision 2021;21(9):2804.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Deciding which way to turn when leaving a store requires one to be spatially oriented when switching environments, but it is unclear how orientation is maintained. There are two potential navigational strategies: (1) egocentric: environmental locations are encoded in relation to the self; and (2) allocentric: external cues are referenced independent of the self. Previous research has shown these strategies arise from separate systems. Here, we examined whether these two systems interact and whether reliance on different cues changes when switching from one environment to another. The present study investigated how different environmental cues and degree of disorientation affects spatial navigation during an environment switch (from indoor to outdoor). For each trial, participants viewed a simulation of a walk down a city street. Halfway up the street, participants entered a building and underwent a disorientating path of either low or high complexity. Upon exiting, participants chose which way to turn to continue. In order to examine the reliance on environmental cues when exiting, the view of the street was manipulated to be mirror reversed in half the trials. Adherence to the street view indicated a reliance on allocentric strategies, whereas failure to adjust to the view indicated a reliance on egocentric strategies. Following their choice, participants were presented with the view down the street and prompted to confirm or change their choice. Results revealed that the mirror change was initially disregarded, but corrected based on the subsequent street view. Further, we found an interaction between path complexity and mirror conditions: RT was longer for mirrored than original views with low path complexity, but faster when high. This pattern indicates that although both strategies are engaged when switching environments, their implementation is largely asynchronous, such that egocentric dominates early and allocentric dominates continuous control of navigation.


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