Reference-related inhibition produces enhanced position discrimination and fast repulsion near axes of symmetry

Vanessa R. Simmering, John P. Spencer, Gregor Schöner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Models proposed to account for reference frame effects in spatial cognition often account for performance in some tasks well, but fail to generalize to other tasks. Here, we demonstrate that a new process account of spatial working memory-the dynamic field theory (DFT)-can bridge the gap between perceptual and memory processes in position discrimination and spatial recall, highlighting that the processes underlying spatial recall also operate in position discrimination. In six experiments, we tested two novel predictions of the DFT: first, that discrimination is enhanced near symmetry axes, especially when the perceptual salience of the axis is increased: and second, that performance far from a reference axis depends on the direction in which the second stimulus is presented. The DFT also predicts the magnitude of this direction-dependent modulation. These effects arise from reference-related inhibition in the theory. We discuss how the processes captured by the DFT relate to existing psychophysical models and operate across a diverse array of spatial tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1046
Number of pages20
JournalPerception and Psychophysics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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