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OS_11. Spatial cognition

Friday, September 30th,   2011 [14:20 - 16:00]


OS_11.1 - The flexibility of spatial mental models: How perspectives and format of presentation interact

Gyselinck, V. 1 , Picucci, L. 2 & Bosco, A. 1

1 LPNCog, Université Paris Descartes, CNRS, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
2 University degli Studi di Bari, Bari, Italy

One of the trends of research to explore the nature of our spatial representations is to examine the extend to which they are dependant on the source through which spatial information is acquired. Another related way is to examine the extend to which these spatial representations maintain the perspective in which spatial information was provided. In this study, young adults were assigned to one of the four learning conditions: a tour across a virtual city (visual-route), the verbal description of the navigated environment (verbal-route), the map study (visual-survey) and the verbal description of the map comprising cardinal coordinates (verbal-survey). Results on a statement verification task showed that when spatial information was acquired through a verbal presentation, performance on switched perspective statements was particularly weakened in the route perspective learning condition compared to the survey perspective. In addition, results on a sketch map showed that positioning landmarks was more difficult for participants engaged in a route perspective via a verbal description. When spatial information was provided adopting a survey perspective, locations were correctly reported regardless the format of presentation. These results suggest that the condition under which a spatial representation is perspective-free depends also on the learning format.

OS_11.2 - Implication of verbal and visuo-spatial working memory in a route representation from a virtual environment

Dorianne, G. , Perrussel, M. & Gyselinck, V.

Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neuropsychologie Cognitives. University Paris Descartes. Boulogne-Billancourt, France.

That research investigated the role of verbal and visuo-spatial working memory (WM) on spatial representation building using a dual-task paradigm. Subjects saw movies of routes in virtual environments while performing a spatial tapping task (spatial condition), an articulatory task (verbal condition), or no task (control condition). Then, subjects had to draw the itinerary on a map (route drawing), recognize which building among two was part of the movie (visual recognition task), and place the buildings on a map (spatial location task). WM capacities were measured with the Corsi Blocks test (spatial), the digit span test (verbal), and participants took the Mental Rotation Test (MRT). Results show that accuracy was impaired in the spatial and verbal concurrent conditions compared to the control condition for route drawing and location tasks, but not for visual recognition. Moreover, subjects with the higher spatial capacities (higher score to Corsi and MRT) were more affected by tapping than others. These results show that verbal WM is involved in the construction of a spatial representation, even when only visual information is used both at learning and test. They also suggest that participants rely on their spatial WM, especially when their capacities are high.

OS_11.3 - How the conversational partner affects spatial memory and spatial descriptions

Galati, A. , Michael, C. , Greenauer, N. , Mello, C. & Avraamides, M.

University of Cyprus

Does advance knowledge about a partner’s perspective affect how people remember and describe spatial information? 18 Directors learned arrays of objects while: (1) not knowing about having to describe the array to a Matcher, (2) knowing about the subsequent description, and (3) knowing the Matcher’s subsequent viewpoint, which was offset by 90°, 135°, or 180°. In memory tests preceding descriptions, Directors were faster to recall objects from perspectives aligned with their own. Additionally, knowing that Matchers would be offset by 90° or 135°, led to slower orienting to these perspectives. Although Directors showed overriding preferences for the perspective of their descriptions, knowing the Matchers’ viewpoint led to consistent switches in perspectives—to more Director-centered expressions for 135° and more Matcher-centered at orthogonal offsets. These findings suggest that advance information about the partner’s perspective is incorporated in spatial memory and enables communicating partners to coordinate flexibly the perspective of their descriptions.

OS_11.4 - The relation between body semantics and spatial body representations

van Elk, M. & Blanke, O.

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, Lausanne, Switzerland

Several studies indicate that body semantics, i.e. semantic knowledge about the human body, comprises a distinct conceptual category. The present study addressed the relation between body semantics and spatial body representations, by presenting participants with word pairs, one below the other, referring to body parts. In the first experiment it was found that subjects responded faster to word pairs that were in a congruent (e.g. EYE / MOUTH) compared to an incongruent (e.g. MOUTH / EYE) spatial position. In addition, a body distance effect was observed, reflected in a decrease in reaction times for word pairs referring to body parts that are further apart (e.g. MOUTH / FOOT) compared to body parts that are close in space (e.g. MOUTH / EYE). In two follow-up studies we found that these effects did not occur during a semantic categorization task and were not modulated by the visual field to which the words were presented. Thereby the present study shows that only when asked to judge the spatial congruency of words referring to body parts, subjects implicitly activate veridical information about the relative distance between body parts. We discuss these new data with respect to theories of embodied cognition and body semantics.

OS_11.5 - The influence of stereoscopy in Virtual Environments for metric and non metric distances estimates

Saracini, C. 1 , Bluemel, E. 2 & Olivetti Belardinelli, M. 1, 3

1 Interuniversity Centre for Research on Cognitive Processing in Natural and Artificial Systems (ECONA), Rome, Italy
2 Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF, Magdeburg, Germany
3 Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

Few work has been done to verify if the use of stereoscopy in a Virtual Environment simulate well, or well enough, the human vision’s processes and if it allows a satisfactory mental spatial representation of the surrounding space, with reference to reciprocal distances between objects and depth perception. In our study, we tested a distances estimates task on the same huge screen (Engineers Workstation), with and without stereoscopy. The results showed that a) the presence of stereoscopy didn’t help in having a precise estimate of metric ego and allocentric distances of objects, but b) if the modality of the answer changes from metric to non-metric, the tendency is to respond more correctly in the stereoscopy condition; c) women do worse than men, especially within the stereoscopy condition; d) independently from the modality of the estimates, women perform better without stereoscopy, while men get better results with it. This allow us to claim that there is a difference between the artificial stereoscopy in VR and the natural binocular disparity, as it’s known from literature that monocular view reduce dramatically the human ability for distances estimates in real environments. These results are therefore discussed in terms of gender differences and cognitive styles.

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