Does the Presence of a Non-Coincident Visual Spatial Pattern Facilitate the Learning of Spatial Relations Among Locations?

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Spatial pattern learning has been suggested to be a distinct form of learning because it appears immune to cue competition and occurs in the absence of discrete visual landmarks and environmental geometry. In the present experiment, we investigated the distinctness of spatial pattern learning. Human participants searched in virtual environment open-field task for four unmarked goal locations arranged in a diamond configuration located within a 5 x 5 matrix. The pattern itself moved to a random location from trial-to-trial, but goal locations always maintained the same spatial relations to each other (i.e., diamond pattern). Participants were randomly assigned to a group in which visual stimuli (i.e., four red bins) were arranged in a pattern consistent but not coincident with the unmarked goal locations (Visual Pattern group) or to a group in which visual stimuli were randomly arranged in the in the environment (Visual Random group). To the extent that spatial pattern learning is a distinct form of learning, exposure to the structured visual cues (i.e., Visual Pattern group) should facilitate the learning of spatial relations among locations compared to exposure to random visual cues (i.e., Visual random group). Results and implications will be discussed.


Comparative Cognition Society’s International Conference on Comparative Cognition (CCS)


Melbourne, FL