Human place and response learning: navigation strategy selection, pupil size and gaze behavior
Journal: Psychological Research
In this study, we examined the cognitive processes and ocular behavior associated with on-going navigation strategy choice using a route learning paradigm that distinguishes between three different wayfinding strategies: an allocentric place strategy, and the egocentric associative cue and beacon response strategies. Participants approached intersections of a known route from a variety of directions, and were asked to indicate the direction in which the original route continued. Their responses in a subset of these test trials allowed the assessment of strategy choice over the course of six experimental blocks. The behavioral data revealed an initial maladaptive bias for a beacon response strategy, with shifts in favor of the optimal configuration place strategy occurring over the course of the experiment. Response time analysis suggests that the configuration strategy relied on spatial transformations applied to a viewpoint-dependent spatial representation, rather than direct access to an allocentric representation. Furthermore, pupillary measures reflected the employment of place and response strategies throughout the experiment, with increasing use of the more cognitively demanding configuration strategy associated with increases in pupil dilation. During test trials in which known intersections were approached from different directions, visual attention was directed to the landmark encoded during learning as well as the intended movement direction. Interestingly, the encoded landmark did not differ between the three navigation strategies, which is discussed in the context of initial strategy choice and the parallel acquisition of place and response knowledge.