Acquisition and consolidation of hierarchical representations of space

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Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2018-05-22
Language: English
Faculty: 8 Zentrale, interfakultäre und fakultätsübergreifende Einrichtungen
Department: Interdisziplinäre Einrichtungen
Advisor: Mallot, Hanspeter A. (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2018-05-15
DDC Classifikation: 150 - Psychology
400 - Language and Linguistics
570 - Life sciences; biology
Keywords: Navigation
Other Keywords:
route planning
cognitive maps
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Navigation – the ability to reach targets which are no visible from the current position - depends on the correct recall of the desired target and the environment between one's current position and this target. The content of these representations are subject to influences from different modalities, e.g. vision, and language. A place can be recognized through different cues, e.g. due to a salient object, but also because of the angles of the routes at an intersection, or a name. The location of places as well as the routes connecting them can be integrated and memorized in an allocentric, survey-like representation. Depending on the amount of detail, the granularity level of a representation can be coarser or finer; the different levels are organized hierarchically. Characteristics of a superordinate category, like a region, can affect the perception of its constituting elements, the places; an inheritance of qualities from region to place levels is possible. The formation of superordinate categories depends both on environmental factors as well as individual ones: what is recognized, what is remembered, and which predictions are drawn from this representation? In this dissertation I examine the acquisition of representations of space, in order to identify features that are well suited for being remembered and auxiliary for navigation. I have two research foci: First, I examine the impact of language by using different hierarchically structured naming schemes as place names. Wiener & Mallot (2003) found that characterizing places only with landmarks belonging to different semantic categories influenced route choice as well as the representations of space. I compare these findings to the impact of different naming schemes. I show that there are naming schemes that may influence behavior in a similar way as a landmark does, but that seeing something and reading its name is by far the same thing. The second part focuses on the content of representations established during navigation. With three different navigation experiments, I examine the content of the concepts of space that are acquired during navigation. What is remembered - the location of places, the routes, or the hierarchical structure of the experimental environment? Are there features that are more likely to be consolidated during sleep, e.g., the transfer of concrete knowledge about places and routes into an abstract, survey-like representation? I show that there are improvements in one wayfinding task correlated to sleep. In the other experiments, learning effects were found for both groups. I also address the question of suitable parameters for measuring survey knowledge.

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