NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1099342
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-May
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
How Do (Some) People Make a Cognitive Map? Routes, Places, and Working Memory
Weisberg, Steven M.; Newcombe, Nora S.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v42 n5 p768-785 May 2016
Research on the existence of cognitive maps and on the cognitive processes that support effective navigation has often focused on functioning across individuals. However, there are pronounced individual differences in navigation proficiency, which need to be explained and which can illuminate our understanding of cognitive maps and effective navigation. Using a virtual environment involving 2 routes (Virtual Silcton, a desktop virtual environment; Weisberg, Schinazi, Newcombe, Shipley, & Epstein, 2014), we divided people into 3 groups based on their within-route and between-route pointing accuracy: integrators, non-integrators, and imprecise navigators. In Study 1, we found that imprecise navigators have lower spatial and verbal working memory, which may limit their ability to build accurate within-route representations. We also found that integrators maintain excellent memories of buildings as categorized by route membership, possibly supporting the idea of hierarchical representations of the environment. In Study 2, we assessed preferences regarding place and route learning using a virtual version of the rodent T-maze (Marchette, Bakker, & Shelton, 2011). Integrators found more goals overall, and although they did not have an overall preference for a place-based strategy, integrators who did choose a place-based strategy found more goals. The opposite was true for imprecise navigators. In Study 3, we added a monetary incentive for accuracy to evaluate whether increased motivation leads to fewer participants classified as imprecise, but found no significant change in the distribution of performance. These data have theoretical implications for the cognitive map hypothesis, and practical implications for improving navigational functioning. A one-size-fits-all approach may fit none.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Wide Range Achievement Test
Grant or Contract Numbers: SBE1041707