Between reality and imagination: When is spatial updating automatic?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Spatial updating has been shown to occur automatically and operate on both real and imagined environments. In three experiments, we compared spatial updating in real and imagined environments and examined when automatic spatial updating occurs. Participants learned the locations of real objects in a room and imagined being in their kitchens. They turned to face either the kitchen or the room targets and pointed to the targets before and after turning. Although objects in the real environment were automatically updated when the participants turned in the imagined environment, targets in the imagined environment were not automatically updated when the participants turned in the real environment. However, explicit spatial updating of imagined environments was as efficient as that of real environments. Automatic updating of the real objects required perceptual experience of these targets, either visually or by touch, and did not occur when the targets were described verbally. Implications for spatial cognition research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-76
Number of pages9
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Psychology(all)

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