Facilitation of learning spatial relations among locations by visual cues: Implications for theoretical accounts of spatial learning.

Spatial pattern learning permits the learning of the location of objects in space relative to each other without reference to discrete visual landmarks or environmental geometry. In the present experiment, we investigated conditions that facilitate spatial pattern learning. Specifically, human participants searched in a real environment or interactive 3-D computer-generated virtual environment open-field search task for four hidden goal locations arranged in a diamond configuration located in a 5 x 5 matrix of raised bins. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Pattern Only, Landmark + Pattern, or Cues + Pattern. All participants experienced a Training phase followed by a Testing phase. Visual cues were coincident with the goal locations during Training only in the Cues + Pattern group whereas a single visual cue at a non-goal location maintained a consistent spatial relationship with the goal locations during Training only in the Landmark + Pattern group. All groups were then tested in the absence of visual cues. Results in both environments indicated that participants in all three groups learned the spatial configuration of goal locations. The presence of the visual cues during Training facilitated acquisition of the task for the Landmark + Pattern and Cues + Pattern groups compared to the Pattern Only group. During Testing the Landmark + Pattern and Cues + Pattern groups did not differ when their respective visual cues were removed. Furthermore, during Testing the performance of these two groups was superior to the Pattern Only group. Results generalize prior research to a different configuration of spatial locations, isolate spatial pattern learning as the process facilitated by visual cues, and indicate that the facilitation of learning spatial relations among locations by visual cues does not require coincident visual cues.

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Main Author: Sturz, Bradley
Other Authors: Brown, Michael, Kelly, Debbie
Language: English
Published: 2009
Online Access: http://ezproxy.villanova.edu/login?url=http://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:175040
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