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Spatial memory in the vertical plane: The influence of gravity and room orientation during learning and retrieval

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Hinterecker,  T
Project group: Social & Spatial Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Project group: Motion Perception & Simulation, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Leroy,  C
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bülthoff,  HH
Project group: Cybernetics Approach to Perception & Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Meilinger,  T
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Project group: Social & Spatial Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Hinterecker, T., Leroy, C., Butz, M., Bülthoff, H., & Meilinger, T. (2016). Spatial memory in the vertical plane: The influence of gravity and room orientation during learning and retrieval. In 58th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP 2016) (pp. 129-129).


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-7D04-0
Abstract
Many studies examined memory of object layouts on a horizontal plane, pointing towards representations aligned with learning perspective or salient room/layout orientations. In contrast, findings regarding object layouts on the vertical plane are rare. While the horizontal plane is clearly defined by the direction of gravity, verticality can be interpreted along the observer’s body, the visual or the gravitational up/ down axes. To investigate which of these axes is used for mentally representing vertically aligned objects, we experimentally varied two factors: room and body orientation. The former was manipulated by tilting a virtual environment (VE) – either being consistent with physical gravity (floor down) or not (floor to the right) –, and the latter by having people sit upright or lie down during exposure to the VE. After learning a configuration of nine differently colored objects aligned on a vertical plane in a single combination of both factors, participants were tested in both body orientations successively and with several different room orientations. Preliminary results show that if the VE orientation was consistent with physical gravity during learning, better performance was obtained if the individuals’ body axis was aligned with physical gravity (upright) during retrieval (regardless of the VE orientation). If the VE was tilted and participants were lying down during learning, they seemed to represent object configurations mainly along their body axes. If participants were sitting while observing a tilted VE, results were mixed. We preliminary conclude that in natural conditions human memory in the vertical plane is aligned with physical gravity.