Category-Based Errors and the Accessibility of Unbiased Spatial Memories: A Retrieval Model

Cristina Sampaio, Ranxiao Frances Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Studies have consistently shown a spatial memory bias such that a target location is remembered toward the prototypical location of the region to which the target belongs, indicating a blending between the target's specific information and the generic information of its region. The authors investigated whether people retain a veridical representation of a target location after a delay by determining the locus of the blending (during encoding, delay, or retrieval). To examine accessibility to the original target location, they used a recognition task, which is less demanding than the traditional reproduction procedure. The results showed that participants were able to recognize the original position of a target over their own biased recalled position after both a short (1,500 ms) and a longer (5,000 ms) delay. These findings reveal that spatial memories can be undistorted despite distorted recall responses. Results are discussed in terms of J. Huttenlocher, L. V. Hedges, and S. Duncan's (1991) category adjustment model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1337
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009



  • category bias
  • category-adjustment model
  • spatial cognition
  • spatial memory
  • spatial memory bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

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