Publication details [#1647]

Mou, Weimin, Timothy McNamara and Lei Zhang. 2013. Global frames of reference organize configural knowledge of paths. Cognition 129 : 180–193. 14 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


This paper argues that spatial memory organization is subject to an irregular path, which is learned by walking and simultaneously watching (un)familiar signs. A path is a sequence of landmarks and landmarks are learned by visually perceiving the location of the path. Experiments 1-4 investigated whether participants had a preferred orientation in memory of the path and whether such a preferred orientation was influenced by the concept of distance. The results have shown that latency is an important factor of spatial memory because participants were able to calculate bearings accurately even for more difficult headings. Experiment 5 explored whether a novel heading could be better than a familiar heading, especially when the novel one was consistent with the global reference direction. The results have shown that participants could remember better non-local headings when they were consistent with the global-reference direction. In overall, the study suggests that people establish a global reference system to represent the spatial configuration of the whole path.