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Keywords:

  • Working memory;
  • Spatial knowledge;
  • Cognitive maps;
  • Frames of reference;
  • Sense of direction;
  • Dual tasks

Abstract

This study examined how different components of working memory are involved in the acquisition of egocentric and allocentric survey knowledge by people with a good and poor sense of direction (SOD). We employed a dual-task method and asked participants to learn routes from videos with verbal, visual, and spatial interference tasks and without any interference. Results showed that people with a good SOD encoded and integrated knowledge about landmarks and routes into egocentric survey knowledge in verbal and spatial working memory, which is then transformed into allocentric survey knowledge with the support of all three components, distances being processed in verbal and spatial working memory and directions in visual and spatial working memory. In contrast, people with a poor SOD relied on verbal working memory and lacked spatial processing, thus failing to acquire accurate survey knowledge. Based on the results, a possible model for explaining individual differences in spatial knowledge acquisition is proposed.