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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R33B07

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

Descriptions

Other title
Subject/Keyword
navigation
comparative cognition
spatial orientation
Type of item
Thesis
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
Department of Psychology
Specialization

Date accepted
2009-09-01T18:35:03Z
Graduation date
2009-11
Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Doctoral
Abstract
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.
Language
English
DOI
doi:10.7939/R33B07
Rights
License granted by Emily Batty (emily.batty@ualberta.ca) 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.
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