Mental representations of large and small spatial layouts are orientation dependent

Beverly Roskos-Ewoldsen, Timothy P. McNamara, Amy L. Shelton, Walter Carr

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Previous research on spatial memory indicated that memories of small layouts were orientation dependent (orientation specific) but that memories of large layouts were orientation independent (orientation free). Two experiments investigated the relation between layout size and orientation dependency. Participants learned a small or a large 4-point path (Experiment 1) or a large display of objects (Experiment 2) and then made judgments of relative direction from imagined headings that were either the same as or different from the single studied orientation. Judgments were faster and more accurate when the imagined heading was the same as the studied orientation (i.e., aligned) than when the imagined heading differed from the studied orientation (i.e., misaligned). This alignment effect was present for both small and large layouts. These results indicate that location is encoded in an orientation-dependent manner regardless of layout size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-226
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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