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Transfer of spatial search between environments in human adults and young children (Homo sapiens): implications for representation of local geometry by spatial systems

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date04/2014
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Journal number3
Volume56
Number of pages14
Pages421-434
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Whether animals represent environmental geometry in a global and/or local way has been the subject of recent debate. We applied a transfer of search paradigm between rectangular- and kite-shaped arenas to examine the performance of human adults (using virtual environments) and children of 2.5– 3.5 years (using real arenas). Adults showed robust transfer to a congruent cor- ner in a kite-shaped arena, following training in a rectangular-shaped arena in two paradigms modeled on those used with rats and young children respectively. In contrast, the children showed no evidence of transfer of search, despite above chance performance in the rectangular arena, and above chance performance in a study where search occurred in the kite arena only. The pattern of findings suggests global aspects of environmental geometry may be used to re-establish heading, and that the matching of elements of local geometry in new global con- texts may be an advanced developmental achievement.