Simultaneous spatial updating in nested environments

Ranxiao Frances Wang, James R. Brockmole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When one moves, the spatial relationship between oneself and the entire world changes. Spatial updating refers to the cognitive process that computes these relationships as one moves. In two experiments, we tested whether spatial updating occurs automatically for multiple environments simultaneously. Participants turned relative to either a room or the surrounding campus buildings and then pointed to targets in both the environment in which they turned (updated environment) and the other environment (nonupdated environment). The participants automatically updated the room targets when they moved relative to the campus, but they did not update the campus targets when they moved relative to the room. Thus, automatic spatial updating depends on the nature of the environment. Implications for theories of spatial learning and the structure of human spatial representations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)981-986
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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