Spatial memory organized by environmental geometry

Thomas Schmidt, Eun Young Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We investigated the simultaneous effects of different reference systems on spatial memory. Participants studied a configuration of objects surrounding them. During retrieval, they imagined themselves in the center of the object configuration facing a particular object, and then indicated the directions of other objects relative to this imagined heading. Besides strong effects of egocentric retrieval direction, retrieval was enhanced for objects and headings aligned with an object-centered reference system (triangular object configuration within a neutrally-shaped room), or with a sufficiently salient environmental reference system (triangular room surrounding a neutrally-shaped object configuration). Moreover, remembered object positions were spatially distorted by the object-centered reference system. Results suggest that object positions are accessed by imagining oneself within a topographical representation of objects which is preorganized in terms of both environmental and object-centered reference systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-369
Number of pages23
JournalSpatial Cognition and Computation
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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