A novel training program for improving spatial orientation: A pilot study
Committee MemberCallahan, Brandy L.
Lévy, Richard M.
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe ability to form and use a mental representation of the surrounding is a critical skill for efficient spatial navigation and orientation in humans. Such a mental representation, more commonly known as a “cognitive map”, provides detailed information about landmarks and their relationships with each other in space. The inability to effectively form or use cognitive maps is typically compensated by using lower-level, less efficient approaches to navigation and orientation such as memorizing a series of turns and distances that leads to struggles with navigating the environment, making day-to-day activities more difficult. This study aims to examine the potential to train the ability to form cognitive maps by using a computerized program in a virtual environment designed appositely to simulate the acquisition of this important skill as occurring in children during development. Fifteen healthy adults completed a 12-day training and were administered a comprehensive spatial behavioral assessment before and after the training program. The results showed that the training program significantly improved the participants’ general ability to form cognitive maps. The training program did not significantly improve more specific cognitive functions such as mental rotation and perspective taking, suggesting that the program targets specifically the higher cognitive ability to form a mental representation of the surrounding. These findings provide the very first evidence that the ability to form cognitive map for orientation and navigation is a trainable skill. The use of the novel training program developed for this study could have a significant positive impact in the lives of the many individuals affected by topographical disorientation as a result of a neurological condition or a cognitive decline in the aging population.
CitationMcLaren-Gradinaru, M. (2019). A novel training program for improving spatial orientation: A pilot study (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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