The Effects of Spatio-temporal Disorder on the Acquisition of Relative Location Knowledge
W.S. Albert, J.M. Beusmans, and R.A. Rensink, Cambridge Basic Research, Nissan Research & Development, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Proceedings of the 93rd Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers. April 1-5, 1997, Ft. Worth, TX.


This study examines the effects of spatio-temporal disorder in learning the relative locations of buildings in a simulated environment. In two experiments, subjects were asked to learn the layout of an environment consisting of four buildings and a road network from a series of snapshots. The snapshots were presented in two conditions: a sequential order (simulating a pan around the environment) or a random order. Learning was tested by having subjects indicate the direction of a particular building given a view of the environment. There were no differences in accuracy or reaction time between the random and pan presentations in a self-paced (Experiment 1) or auto-paced learning experiment (Experiment 2). Furthermore, performance was approximately equal for both presentation conditions on environments with or without a global frame of reference, on scenes which varied in the number of buildings, and on novel and previously presented scenes of the environment. However, novel scenes had significantly higher latencies than scenes presented during learning. We conclude that subjects were able to integrate the snapshots into a spatial representation in spite of spatio-temporal disorder during learning, while retaining some viewpoint dependent knowledge. These findings show some interesting parallels to viewpoint invariant and viewpoint dependent theories of object recognition.

Keywords: spatial cognition, spatial learning, navigation, object recognition

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