Object properties and frame of reference in spatial memory representations

Steven A. Marchette, Amy L. Shelton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Considerable evidence suggests that humans flexibly select reference frames for spatial memory based on qualities such as the shape of the environment, the configuration of elements, and one's own egocentric experience of the space. We propose that the elements, or objects themselves, may also convey useful information about salient reference orientations. In Experiment 1, participants viewed objects elongated along their front-back axis that were either all oriented in the same direction or oriented at 10 different randomly selected directions. Participants in the random orientation condition were most accurate at the orientation they visually experienced at learning, whereas participants in the shared orientation condition were most accurate at an orientation consistent with or orthogonal to the coincident object orientations. Experiment 2 replicated these effects using animals that were less elongated but had clear conceptual orientations. These results suggest that the principles governing spatial memory capitalize on a wide range of properties that likely interact to support an enduring representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalSpatial Cognition and Computation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Memory
  • Objects
  • Orientation
  • Spatial cognition
  • Spatial organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'Object properties and frame of reference in spatial memory representations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this