The effect of landmarks in human path integration

Xiaoang Wan, Ranxiao Frances Wang, James A. Crowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of landmarks in human path integration was investigated using virtual hallway-mazes. Participants traveled along random 5-segment paths either with or without distinctive landmarks at some segment intersections. They were required to directly return to the origin or to one of the landmark locations from the end of the path. Results showed that knowledge of the return targets prior to the outbound trip significantly reduced RTs to both the origin and the landmarks. Moreover, RTs in the return-to-origin trials were longer with landmarks present than without landmarks. This effect was eliminated when the return target was given prior to the trip. These results suggest that processing of the origin and the landmarks interfere with each other. However this interference is not obligatory and can be eliminated or reduced by prior knowledge about the target. The influences of landmarks on path integration and spatial updating were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Landmarks
  • Navigation
  • Path Integration
  • Spatial updating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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