Keeping track of where we are: Spatial working memory in navigation

Kara J. Blacker, Steven M. Weisberg, Nora S. Newcombe, Susan M. Courtney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Spatial working memory (WM) seems to include two types of spatial information: locations and relations. However, this distinction has been based on small-scale tasks. Here, we used a virtual navigation paradigm to examine whether WM for locations and relations applies to the large-scale spatial world. We found that navigators who successfully learned two routes and also integrated them were superior at maintaining multiple locations and multiple relations in WM. However, over the entire spectrum of navigators, WM for spatial relations, but not locations, was specifically predictive of route integration performance. These results lend further support to the distinction between these two forms of spatial WM and point to their critical role in individual differences in navigation proficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-702
Number of pages12
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Sep 14 2017


  • Working memory
  • navigation
  • relations
  • spatial
  • virtual environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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