Spatial updating and common misinterpretations of spatial reference frames

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Spatial memory plays an important role in everyday life, and a large amount of research has been devoted to understanding spatial coding and reference frames across many areas. The popular research paradigms to study spatial reference frames include novel shortcut, perspective change, and landmark control tests. However, the growing research on spatial updating challenges the logical foundation of these classical paradigms, and suggests that the experimental findings using these paradigms have usually been misinterpreted. That is, performance in these tasks is generally unrelated to whether the spatial representations themselves are egocentric or allocentric. This article reviews the traditional paradigms and their logic, summarizes the theories of spatial updating, analyzes the logical flaws in these popular paradigms, and discusses their implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-249
Number of pages28
JournalSpatial Cognition and Computation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017


  • allocentric
  • egocentric
  • navigation
  • reference frame
  • spatial updating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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