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Path integration while ignoring irrelevant movement.
Participants attempted to return to the origin of travel after following an outbound path by locomotion on foot (Experiments 1-3) or in a virtual visual environment (Experiment 4). Critical conditions interrupted the outbound path with verbal distraction or irrelevant, to-be-ignored movements. Irrelevant movement, real or virtual, had greater effects than verbal or cognitive distraction, indicating inability to ignore displacement during path integration. Effects of the irrelevant movement's direction (backward vs. rightward) and location (1st vs. 2nd leg of path) indicated that participants encoded a configural representation of the pathway and then cognitively compensated for the movement, producing errors directly related to the demands of compensation. An encoding-error model fit to the data indicated that backward movement produced downward rescaling, whereas movement that led to implied rotation (rightward on 2nd leg) produced distortions of shape and scale.