Effect of Visuo-Spatial Working Memory on Distance Estimation in Map Learning

Hironori Oto


This paper investigated the role of visuo-spatial working memory in distance estimation during map learning. Participants were asked to learn a map and perform a distance estimation task on the basis of the memorized map. The capacities of visual (i.e. visual cache) and spatial (i.e. inner scribe) components of visuo-spatial working memory were assessed for each participant and distance estimate errors were compared across high and low visuo-spatial capacity participants. The visual component predicted performance accuracy. In addition, low visual capacity participants provided longer distance estimates between two locations as a function of the number of intervening points between them. Although spatial component capacity also predicted estimated distances, it did not affect performance accuracy or estimated distance bias as a function of intervening points. It appears that distance is estimated on the basis of visual component capacity, and that low visual capacity individuals try to draw upon non-spatial information to support a limited visual capacity.


visuo-spatial memory; map learning; distance estimation

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