Download the full-sized PDF of A Comparative examination of the use of metric information in spatial orientation and navigationDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

A Comparative examination of the use of metric information in spatial orientation and navigation Open Access


Other title
comparative cognition
spatial orientation
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Batty, Emily Raewyn
Supervisor and department
Spetch, Marcia L. (Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Pierce, David (Sociology)
Sturdy, Christopher B. (Psychology)
Heth, C. Don (Psychology)
Roberts, William A. (Psychology)
Treit, Dallas (Psychology)
Department of Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In daily life, both animals and humans are often faced with the task of returning to previously visited locations. In many cases, an organism must be able to (1) establish a directional frame of reference and (2) determine location based on surrounding cues in order to solve this problem. Moreover, successful navigation is generally thought to rely on how an organism learns and uses the metric relationships between various locations in its environment. This thesis examines various factors that affect the way animals encode and use metric information in their environment, both to orient and to navigate. A transformation approach is used to determine what aspects of metric information are learned and/or preferred. Additionally, this thesis follows a comparative approach in order to examine similarities and differences among species. In chapter 2, I show that two closely related species of chickadees differently use geometric and featural information when establishing a directional frame of reference. I suggest that ecological factors, but not rearing condition, affect the way that chickadees preferentially use metric or featural information to orient. In chapter 3, I used a similar paradigm to show that a pre-existing directional frame of reference can interact with rats’ use of metric cues to navigate. More specifically, chapter 3 shows that experience gained through training procedures affects the way that rats use metric information in a navigation task. Chapter 4 expands upon this idea, and shows that pigeons encode directional metric differently based on their past experience. Finally, in chapter 5, I examined the flexibility of use of metrics by comparing how search strategies of human adults and children can change based on a goal’s proximity to an edge. To summarize, this thesis shows that use of metric information is malleable and situation-specific and can be affected by a variety of factors including ecology, past experience and boundary information.
License granted by Emily Batty ( on 2009-08-31T19:20:26Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (Portable Document Format)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 1907752
Last modified: 2015:10:12 15:59:30-06:00
Filename: Batty_Emily_Fall 2009.pdf
Original checksum: 3ae07c222993adf381d747da79d9757d
Well formed: true
Valid: true
File title: Microsoft Word - Dissertation Aug29
Page count: 183
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date