Project N: Route Knowledge

Representation and Activation of Route Knowledge

Karl F. Wender, Sabine Schumacher-Bittner, Rainer Rothkegel

University of Trier, Department of Psychology

Duration: 1996 - 2000

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When people navigate through a new environment they first learn knowledge about landmarks, then route knowledge, and finally survey knowledge. This project investigates the form of the mental representations for route knowledge. Two questions are addressed: How are distances and directions represented and how does spatial context influence the activation of spatial knowledge?
In a first series of experiments we investigate whether knowledge about distances and directions is stored explicitly or implicitly. People learn a new route either in a real surrounding or at the computer. The number and locations of landmarks and the distances between them are varied. People judge distances and directions from memory. Reaction times are measured.
A second series of experiments tests context effects in route knowledge and especially a spatial generalization of context effects. The mental representation is assumed to have a more complex structure than a mere sequence of landmarks and distances. Route knowledge is assessed by methods of recall and clarification. A connectionist model is proposed.

Approaches: empirical investigation; modeling
Area of Research: cognitive psychology
Topics: memory; context; navigation; virtual reality

Project publications

mail us your comments or remarks last updated: September 2000