Chunking in spatial memory



Publication Details

Sargent, J., Dopkins, S., Philbeck, J. & Chichka, D. (2010). Chunking in spatial memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36 (3), 576-589.


In order to gain insight into the nature of human spatial representations, the current study examined how those representations are affected by blind rotation. Evidence was sought on the possibility that whereas certain environmental aspects may be updated independently of one another, other aspects may be grouped (or chunked) together and updated as a unit. Participants learned the locations of an array of objects around them in a room, then were blindfolded and underwent a succession of passive, whole-body rotations. After each rotation, participants pointed to remembered target locations. Targets were located more precisely relative to each other if they were (a) separated by smaller angular distances, (b) contained within the same regularly configured arrangement, or (c) corresponded to parts of a common object. A hypothesis is presented describing the roles played by egocentric and allocentric information within the spatial updating system. Results are interpreted in terms of an existing neural systems model, elaborating the model's conceptualization of how parietal (egocentric) and medial temporal (allocentric) representations interact.

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