The role of body-based sensory information in the acquisition of enduring spatial representations

Psychol Res. 2007 May;71(3):322-32. doi: 10.1007/s00426-006-0087-x. Epub 2006 Sep 5.


Although many previous studies have shown that body-based sensory modalities such as vestibular, kinesthetic, and efferent information are useful for acquiring spatial information about one's immediate environment, relatively little work has examined how these modalities affect the acquisition of long-term spatial memory. Three groups of participants learned locations along a 146 m indoor route, and subsequently pointed to these locations, estimated distances between them, and constructed maps of the environment. One group had access to visual, proprioceptive, and inertial information, another had access to matched visual and matched inertial information, and another had access only to matched visual information. In contrast to previous findings examining transient, online spatial representations, our results showed very few differences among groups in the accuracy of the spatial memories acquired. The only difference was the improved pointing accuracy of participants who had access to proprioceptive information relative to that of participants in the other conditions. Results are discussed in terms of differential sensory contributions to transient and enduring spatial representations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Proprioception
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Space Perception*
  • Spatial Behavior*