Spatial integration of boundaries in a 3D virtual environment
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.06.015
Prior research, using two- and three-dimensional environments, has found that when both human and nonhuman animals independently acquire two associations between landmarks with a common landmark (e.g., LM1-LM2 and LM2-LM3), each with its own spatial relationship, they behave as if the two unique LMs have a known spatial relationship despite their never having been paired. Seemingly, they have integrated the two associations to create a third association with its own spatial relationship (LM1-LM3). Using sensory preconditioning (Experiment 1) and second-order conditioning (Experiment 2) procedures, we found that human participants integrated information about the boundaries of pathways to locate a goal within a three-dimensional virtual environment in the absence of any relevant landmarks. Spatial integration depended on the participant experiencing a common boundary feature with which to link the pathways. These results suggest that the principles of associative learning also apply to the boundaries of an environment.