Restat J D, Steck S D, Mochnatzki H F, Mallot H A, 2004, "Geographical slant facilitates navigation and orientation in virtual environments" Perception 33(6) 667 – 687
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Geographical slant facilitates navigation and orientation in virtual environments
Jan D Restat, Sibylle D Steck, Horst F Mochnatzki, Hanspeter A Mallot
Received 23 December 2002; in revised form 1 August 2003
Abstract. Theoretical considerations and earlier experimental findings indicate that traveling over slanted terrain can lead to an enrichment of the perceived spatial cues relevant for navigation. We investigated the proposed facilitation of a uniformly slanted environment on navigation and orientation performance with a virtual environment presented on a large 180° screen, using as material a virtual town with eight places and twenty-four landmarks. In the control condition, this town was placed on a flat surface; in the two experimental conditions, the town was placed on a slope with a uniform angle of 4°. Pedaling on a bicycle simulator, participants first explored the environment, then solved navigation tasks, pointed from various positions to distant landmarks, judged the relative elevation of pairs of distant landmarks from memory, and finally drew a sketch map of the environment. In comparison to the control condition, the number of navigation errors was significantly lower in the slanted conditions, and the deviations in the pointings to distant landmarks were massively reduced. Participants from the slant conditions also showed good knowledge of the relative elevations of pairs of distant locations. However, no differences in map-drawing quality were found. The results lend additional support to the proposition that our spatial knowledge, which is used in navigation and orientation, contains vertical information.
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