Spatial updating in superimposed real and virtual environments

Xiaoang Irene Wan, Ranxiao Frances Wang, James A. Crowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wang (2004) showed that people do not always simultaneously update their relationships to real and imagined environments in a dual-environment situation. Employing the same paradigm, we examined whether spatial updating operates on virtual reality as it does on a real or fictitious environment. Participants learned target locations in a real room and a virtual kitchen. Then they turned to face targets either in the room or in the kitchen, while blindfolded, and pointed to the targets before and after turning. Participants kept track of their orientation in both environments equally efficiently, regardless of explicit instructions. In contrast, when the real environment was described verbally but not directly perceived, participants automatically updated the virtual kitchen but not the room. These results suggest that people automatically update a virtual environment as they do a real one when the two environments are superimposed. The automaticity of spatial updating is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-51
Number of pages10
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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