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09-08-2020 | Original Article Open Access

Spatial knowledge acquired from first-person and dynamic map perspectives

Psychological Research
M. N. A. van der Kuil, A. W. M. Evers, J. M. A. Visser-Meily, I. J. M. van der Ham
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00426-020-01389-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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As we become familiar with an environment through navigation and map study, spatial information is encoded into a mental representation of space. It is currently unclear to what degree mental representations of space are determined by the perspective in which spatial information is acquired. The overlapping model of spatial knowledge argues that spatial information is encoded into a common spatial representation independent of learning perspective, whereas the partially independent model argues for dissociated spatial representations specific to the learning perspective. The goal of this study was to provide insight into this debate by investigating the cognitive functions underlying the formation of spatial knowledge obtained through different learning perspectives. Hundred participants studied an ecologically valid virtual environment via a first-person and map perspective. The map employed in the study was dynamic, allowing for the disentanglement of learning perspective and sequential information presentation. Spatial knowledge was examined using an array of navigation tasks that assessed both route and survey knowledge. Results show that distinct visuospatial abilities predict route knowledge depending on whether an environment is learned via a first-person or map perspective. Both shared and distinct visuospatial abilities predicted the formation of survey knowledge in the two perspective learning conditions. Additionally, sequential presentation of map information diminishes the perspective dependent performance differences on spatial tasks reported in earlier studies. Overall, the results provide further evidence for the partially dissociated model of spatial knowledge, as the perspective from which an environment is learned influences the spatial representation that is formed.

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