The role of experience in location estimation: Target distributions shift location memory biases

John Lipinski, Vanessa R. Simmering, Jeffrey S. Johnson, John P. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Research based on the Category Adjustment model concluded that the spatial distribution of target locations does not influence location estimation responses [Huttenlocher, J., Hedges, L., Corrigan, B., & Crawford, L. E. (2004). Spatial categories and the estimation of location. Cognition, 93, 75-97]. This conflicts with earlier results showing that location estimation is biased relative to the spatial distribution of targets [Spencer, J. P., & Hund, A. M. (2002). Prototypes and particulars: Geometric and experience-dependent spatial categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 131, 16-37]. Here, we resolve this controversy by using a task based on Huttenlocher et al. (Experiment 4) with minor modifications to enhance our ability to detect experience-dependent effects. Results after the first block of trials replicate the pattern reported in Huttenlocher et al. After additional experience, however, participants showed biases that significantly shifted according to the target distributions. These results are consistent with the Dynamic Field Theory, an alternative theory of spatial cognition that integrates long-term memory traces across trials relative to the perceived structure of the task space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-153
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

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