Cue Effects on Memory for Location When Navigating Spatial Displays

Cognitive Science 33 (7):1267-1300 (2009)
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Participants maneuvered a rat image through a circular region on the computer screen to find a hidden target platform, blending aspects of two well-known spatial tasks. Like the Morris water maze task, participants first experienced a series of learning trials before having to navigate to the hidden target platform from different locations and orientations. Like the dot-location task, they determined the location of a position within a two-dimensional circular region. This procedure provided a way to examine how the number of surrounding cues (1, 2, or 3) affects the memory for spatial location in navigation. Memory performance was better when there were more cues and when targets were close to cues, consistent with the idea that cues bolster fine-grain memory, especially in proximal regions. Early and late measures of bias in memory reflected biases in a direction toward the nearest cue, implicating a cue-based category structure of the navigational space. Collectively, results suggest cue-based spatial memory representations that have been inferred from the dot-location task generalize to a navigation task within a simple, computer-based environment, as demonstrated by the good fits of the spatial model developed for the dot-location task (Fitting, Wedell, & Allen, 2005, 2007).



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