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Sequential versus simultaneous viewing of an environment: Effects of focal attention to individual object locations on visual spatial learning

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We investigated memories of room-sized spatial layouts learned by sequentially or simultaneously viewing objects from a stationary position. In three experiments, sequential viewing (one or two objects at a time) yielded subsequent memory performance that was equivalent or superior to simultaneous viewing of all objects, even though sequential viewing lacked direct access to the entire layout. This finding was replicated by replacing sequential viewing with directed viewing in which all objects were presented simultaneously and participants' attention was externally focused on each object sequentially, indicating that the advantage of sequential viewing over simultaneous viewing may have originated from focal attention to individual object locations. These results suggest that memory representation of object-to-object relations can be constructed efficiently by encoding each object location separately, when those locations are defined within a single spatial reference system. These findings highlight the importance of considering object presentation procedures when studying spatial learning mechanisms.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA 2: Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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