Active navigation and orientation-free spatial representations
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In this study, we examined the orientation dependency of spatial representations following various learning conditions. We assessed the spatial representations of human participants after they had learned a complex spatial layout via map learning, via navigating within a real environment, or via navigating through a virtual simulation of that environment. Performances were compared between conditions involving (1) multiple- versus single-body orientation, (2) active versus passive learning, and (3) high versus low levels of proprioceptive information. Following learning, the participants were required to produce directional judgments to target landmarks. Results showed that the participants developed orientation-specific spatial representations following map learning and passive learning, as indicated by better performance when tested from the initial learning orientation. These results suggest that neither the number of vantage points nor the level of proprioceptive information experienced are determining factors; rather, it is the active aspect of direct navigation that leads to the development of orientation-free representations.
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