Building spatial representations through primary and secondary learning

Clark Presson, Mark D. Hazelrigg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


Examined conditions under which cognitive representations of spatial information are stored in orientation-specific ways (like pictures) vs orientation-free ways. 36 college students learned simple paths by viewing a map of them (map condition), by walking them while blindfolded (walk condition), or by directly viewing the route from a single vantage point (look condition). Blindfolded Ss then stood on the route in various orientations and made directional judgments to other locations on the route. When Ss learned the route by indirect, symbolic means (map), judgments were quite easy when aligned with the learned map orientation and were difficult if the judgment was not aligned with the learned map orientation. However, when Ss learned the route by more direct, primary spatial learning (walk and look), there were no alignment effects. Thus, Ss treated information from primary (direct) and secondary (symbolic) spatial learning in distinct ways. It is concluded that learning from a map results in a figural representation that has great precision but a specific orientation. Learning the route more directly results in a representation that is less precise but one that can be used in more flexible ways. (21 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)716-722
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 1984


  • map vs direct learning of routes, methods of storage of spatial information, college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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