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May 27, 2008

Spatial memories of virtual environments

Spatial memories of virtual environments: how egocentric experience, intrinsic structure, and extrinsic structure interact.

Psychon Bull Rev. 2008 Apr;15(2):322-7

Authors: Kelly JW, McNamara TP

Previous research has uncovered three primary cues that influence spatial memory organization:egocentric experience, intrinsic structure (object defined), and extrinsic structure (environment defined). In the present experiments, we assessed the relative importance of these cues when all three were available during learning. Participants learned layouts from two perspectives in immersive virtual reality. In Experiment 1, axes defined by intrinsic and extrinsic structures were in conflict, and learning occurred from two perspectives, each aligned with either the intrinsic or the extrinsic structure. Spatial memories were organized around a reference direction selected from the first perspective, regardless of its alignment with intrinsic or extrinsic structures. In Experiment 2, axes defined by intrinsic and extrinsic structures were congruent, and spatial memories were organized around reference axes defined by those congruent structures, rather than by the initially experienced view. The findings are discussed in the context of spatial memory theory as it relates to real and virtual environments.

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