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Active control of locomotion facilitates nonvisual navigation
journal contributionposted on 2001-02-01, 00:00 authored by John W. Philbeck, Roberta KlatzkyRoberta Klatzky, Marlene BehrmannMarlene Behrmann, Jack M. Loomis, Jeremy Goodridge
In some navigation tasks, participants are more accurate if they view the environment beforehand. To characterize the benefits associated with visual previews, 32 blindfolded participants were guided along simple paths and asked to walk unassisted to a specified destination (e.g., the origin). Paths were completed without vision, with or without a visual preview of the environment. Previews did not necessarily improve nonvisual navigation. When previewed landmarks stood near the origin or at off-path locations, they provided little benefit; by contrast, when they specified intermediate destinations (thereby increasing the degree of active control), performance was greatly enhanced. The results suggest that the benefit of a visual preview stems from the information it supplies for actively controlled locomotion. Accuracy in reaching the final destination, however, is strongly contingent upon the destination's location during the preview.