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Keywords:

  • Working memory;
  • Visual task;
  • Spatial task;
  • Verbal task;
  • Dual task;
  • Virtual reality;
  • Dual coding;
  • Grounding

Abstract

This study examines the working memory systems involved in human wayfinding. In the learning phase, 24 participants learned two routes in a novel photorealistic virtual environment displayed on a 220° screen while they were disrupted by a visual, a spatial, a verbal, or—in a control group—no secondary task. In the following wayfinding phase, the participants had to find and to “virtually walk” the two routes again. During this wayfinding phase, a number of dependent measures were recorded. This research shows that encoding wayfinding knowledge interfered with the verbal and with the spatial secondary task. These interferences were even stronger than the interference of wayfinding knowledge with the visual secondary task. These findings are consistent with a dual-coding approach of wayfinding knowledge.