Orientation Specificity in Spatial Memory: What Makes a Path Different From a Map of the Path?

Clark Presson, Nina DeLange, Mark D. Hazelrigg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Three studies investigated the factors that lead spatial information to be stored in an orientation-specific versus orientation-free manner. In Experiment 1, we replicated the findings of Presson and Hazelrigg (1984) that learning paths from a small map versus learning the paths directly from viewing a world leads to different functional characteristics of spatial memory. Whether the route display was presented as the path itself or as a large map of the path did not affect how the information was stored. In Experiment 2, we examined the effects of size of stimulus display, size of world, and scale transformations on how spatial information in maps is stored and available for use in later judgments. In Experiment 3, we examined the effect of size on the orientation specificity of the spatial coding of paths that are viewed directly. The major determinant of whether spatial information was stored and used in an orientation-specific or an orientation-free manner was the size of the display. Small displays were coded in an orientation-specific way, whereas very large displays were coded in a more orientation-free manner. These data support the view that there are distinct spatial representations, one more perceptual and episodic and one more integrated and model-like, that have developed to meet different demands faced by mobile organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-897
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Orientation Specificity in Spatial Memory: What Makes a Path Different From a Map of the Path?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this