Boundary Shapes Guide Selection of Reference Points in Goal Localization

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • This study contrasted two hypotheses theorizing the role of the global shape of a boundary in object location memory. People differentiate reference points based on the global shape extracted from the environment configuration and choose appropriate parts for encoding a specific location. Alternatively, only the number of reference points provided by a shape is important for accurate encoding. We designed a location memory task in an immersive virtual environment to examine the two hypotheses. Participants first learned four target locations with a circular wall and a landmark array. During testing, participants recalled the locations with one entire cue or part of one cue removed. Location memory was impaired when the testing cues did not form a circle, but was not impaired when the testing configuration retained the circular shape. In Experiment 2, the circle formed by a landmark array and the circular wall did not share the same center during learning. Memory performance decreased when either the wall or the landmark array was removed during testing. These results indicated that participants might segment the shape of the circular wall into parts (similar to segmenting a clock face into 12 hours) and encode the target locations relative to the differentiated parts. When such segmentation could be recovered from the testing configuration, object location memory was retained. Otherwise, impairment occurred during testing. These findings suggest that while individual reference points on a boundary are important for encoding specific target locations, the global shape of the boundary affects the segmentation and the selection of individual reference points.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International