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In Psychonomic bulletin & review

A common assumption about spatial memory is that it is organized along one or more reference directions such that access to memory is easier along directions aligned with the reference direction(s). This assumption rests to no small part on frequently replicated alignment effects arising in judgment of relative direction. In this contribution, we report an experiment designed to investigate a possible alternative explanation of alignment effects. By contrasting performance in a judgment of relative direction task with performance in an ego perspective taking task, we tested to what extent alignment effects arise from encoding of relations in addition to or instead of from organization along reference directions. Experimental results suggest little if any contribution of relation encoding on alignment effects, thus lending further support to the assumption of reference directions in spatial memory. Data from both tasks yielded the same alignment effects and provided evidence for a single direction being encoded in memory. Moreover, our results shed new light on and raise questions concerning differential sensorimotor and cognitive influence on spatial memory use. While both influence memory use, systematic bias seems to arise solely from reference directions, along which memory is organized.

Schultheis Holger


Inter-object relations, Judgment of relative directions, Reference frames, Spatial memory