Crossing boundaries: Global reorientation following transfer from the inside to the outside of an arena
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In two spatial navigation experiments, human participants were asked to find a hidden goal (a Wi-Fi signal) that was located in one of the right-angled corners of a kite-shaped (Experiment 1) or a cross-shaped (Experiment 2) virtual environment. Goal location was defined solely with respect to the geometry of the environment. Following this training, in a test conducted in extinction, participants were placed onto the outside of the same environments and asked to locate the Wi-Fi signal. The results of both experiments revealed that participants spent more time searching in regions on the outside of the environments that were closest to where the Wi-Fi signal was located during training. These results are difficult to explain in terms of analyses of spatial navigation and re-orientation that emphasize the role of local representational encoding or view matching. Instead, we suggest that these results are better understood in terms of a global representation of the shape of the environment.
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