Learning Relative Directions Between Landmarks in a Desktop Virtual Environment
W.S. Albert, R.A. Rensink, and J.M. Beusmans, Cambridge Basic Research, Nissan Research & Development, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Spatial Cognition and Computation, 1: 131-144. 1999.   [pdf]


This study presents two experiments that examine how individuals learn relative directions between landmarks in a desktop virtual environment. Subjects were presented snapshot images of different virtual environments containing distinguishing landmarks and a road network. Following the presentation of each virtual environment, subjects were given a relative direction test. The relative direction test involved indicating the direction of hidden landmarks from different vantage points in the environment. Half of these vantage points were presented during the learning phase, while the other half were novel. Results showed that subejcts learned relative directions between landmarks equally well when scenes were presented in either a sequential or random order. Furthermore, viewing a configuration of landmarks in a desktop virtual environment from multiple perspectives produced a viewpoint dependent representation in memory. Subjects had significantly greater response times for new viewing perspectives, as compared to previously viewed scenes. This viewpoint dependent representation of the environment persisted despite learning under conditions of spatiotemporal discontinuity and changes to an environmental frame of reference.

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