Use of Redundant Sets of Landmark Information by Humans (Homo sapiens) in a Goal-Searching Task in an Open Field and on a Computer Screen

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Landmark-based goal-searching tasks that were similar to those for pigeons (Ushitani & Jitsumori, 2011) were provided to human participants to investigate whether they could learn and use multiple sources of spatial information that redundantly indicate the position of a hidden target in both an open field (Experiment 1) and on a computer screen (Experiments 2 and 3). During the training in each experiment, participants learned to locate a target in 1 of 25 objects arranged in a 5 × 5 grid, using two differently colored, arrow-shaped (Experiments 1 and 2) or asymmetrically shaped (Experiment 3) landmarks placed adjacent to the goal and pointing to the goal location. The absolute location and directions of the landmarks varied across trials, but the constant configuration of the goal and the landmarks enabled participants to find the goal using both global configural information and local vector information (pointing to the goal by each individual landmark). On subsequent test trials, the direction was changed for one of the landmarks to conflict with the global configural information. Results of Experiment 1 indicated that participants used vector information from a single landmark but not configural information. Further examinations revealed that the use of global (metric) information was enhanced remarkably by goal searching with nonarrow-shaped landmarks on the computer monitor (Experiment 3) but much less so with arrow-shaped landmarks (Experiment 2). The General Discussion focuses on a comparison between humans in the current study and pigeons in the previous study.

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