Functional Equivalence of Spatial Representations Derived From Vision and Language: Evidence From Allocentric Judgments

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Past research (e.g., J. M. Loomis, Y. Lippa, R. L. Klatzky, & R. G. Golledge, 2002) has indicated that spatial representations derived from spatial language can function equivalently to those derived from perception. The authors tested functional equivalence for reporting spatial relations that were not explicitly stated during learning. Participants learned a spatial layout by visual perception or spatial language and then made allocentric direction and distance judgments. Experiments 1 and 2 indicated allocentric relations could be accurately reported in all modalities, but visually perceived layouts, tested with or without vision, produced faster and less variable directional responses than language. In Experiment 3, when participants were forced to create a spatial image during learning (by spatially updating during a backward translation), functional equivalence of spatial language and visual perception was demonstrated by patterns of latency, systematic error, and variability.

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