New Research From Psychological Science

Read about the latest research published in Psychological Science:

How You Get There From Here: Interaction of Visual Landmarks and Path Integration in Human Navigation

Mintao Zhao and William H. Warren       

Humans use both a landmark-guidance system and a path-integration system to help navigate the world; however, it is not known whether people integrate cues detected by these systems during navigation or rely on cues from one system at a time. Participants performed a homing task in a virtual environment in which they had to walk a triangular path and return to a home location. The content of the virtual landscape was altered such that participants had to rely on path integration, landmarks, or both for homing. Although cues detected by both systems were integrated to reduce variability, they competed when determining homing direction. These findings suggest that visual landmarks and path integration interact to guide human navigation.

Object Persistence Enhances Spatial Navigation: A Case Study in Smartphone Vision Science

Brandon M. Liverence and Brian J. Scholl

How is spatial navigation and learning influenced by persistence cues? Participants used arrow buttons to navigate between cells in a grid. Only one cell at a time was visible, and participants were told to locate certain target objects in a specific order. Transitions between cells could either happen through a slide transition (i.e., one cell slid out of view as the other cell slid into view) or through a fade transition (i.e., one cell faded out of view before the next cell faded into view). The slide transition provided participants with persistence cues, whereas the fade transition did not. Participants were faster on trials in slide-transition blocks than on trials in fade-transition blocks, suggesting that object persistence cues enhance spatial navigation and learning.

Prenatal Programming of Postnatal Susceptibility to Memory Impairments: A Developmental Double Jeopardy

Kerry-Ann Grant, Curt A. Sandman, Deborah A. Wing, Julia Dmitrieva, and Elysia Poggi Davis

In an examination of how prenatal stressors influence children’s development, the researchers assessed 6- to 10-year-old children who had or had not been exposed to the drug betamethasone — a synthetic glucocorticoid used to promote fetal lung development — for cognitive ability, expressive language, verbal recall, and sociodemographic risk. Only children who were exposed to betamethasone and postnatal sociodemographic adversity showed impaired long-term memory performance. According to the authors, this finding is consistent with the vulnerability-stress model, which says that vulnerability factors inherent to an individual synergistically interact with stressors in the environment to produce suboptimal outcomes.

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