Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #166
Experimental Analysis of Spatial Navigation
Sunday, May 24, 2009
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
North 228
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Derek A. Hamilton (University of New Mexico)
Abstract: The talks presented in this symposium represent a broad range of contemporary research on spatial navigation in humans and non-human animals. Each of the four speakers will present data that highlight the various sources of stimulus control and behavioral processes involved in a particular navigation task, and, where relevant, will address individual differences in sources of control and associated behaviors. A major goal of this symposium is to emphasize basic behavioral research aimed at identifying interoceptive and exteroceptive sources of control, characterizing basic behavioral processes involved in navigation, and investigating the interaction between sources of control. The study of navigation has been of considerable significance throughout the history of experimental psychology and has been central to contemporary research on the biological bases of learning, memory and cognition, however, it has been noticeably underrepresented in the area of behavior analysis. Thus, an additional goal is to motivate discussion amongst behavior analysts regarding the application of behavior analytic principles to the study of navigation and related behaviors.
Movement Organization and the Control of Navigation by Self-Movement Cues
DOUGLAS WALLACE (Northern Illinois University), Shawn Winter (Northern Illinois University), Jenny Raines (Northern Illinois University)
Abstract: Spatial orientation is essential for the survival of an animal; therefore, it is not surprising that animals have evolved the ability to use multiple sources of information to maintain spatial orientation. Previous work has demonstrated that, in the absence of environmental cues, animals use self-movement information to return to a previously visited location or dead reckon. During dead reckoning based navigation an inverse relationship has been observed between linear and angular speeds. It is possible that this movement organization is critical for processing of self-movement cues. This talk will present data from human and rat studies demonstrating that disruptions in the relationship between angular and linear speed are predictive of errors in dead reckoning based navigation. This work provides the foundation for future research using molecular descriptions of behavior to investigate cognitive processes involved in spatial navigation.
Egocentric and Allocentric Search in a Water Maze as a Function of Training Distance and Predictiveness of Environmental Cues
CAROLINA TAMARA (Indiana University), Joe Leffel (Indiana University), William D. Timberlake (Indiana University)
Abstract: Four water maze experiments with rats tested the relative amount of egocentric vs. allocentric search as a function of near vs. far training distance, and the type and predictiveness of environmental cues. In Experiments 1 and 2, after training from a start location fixed with respect to both predictive landmarks and background cues, Near group rats expressed egocentric and allocentric search equally, while Far group rats primarily showed allocentric search. In Experiment 3, after training either with predictive landmarks or stable background cues. Near group rats expressed only egocentric search, while Far group rats were again primarily allocentric. In Experiment 4, after training with unpredictive environmental cues, Near and Far group rats both expressed strong egocentric search. We conclude that allocentric relative to egocentric search in the water maze is an increasing function of both training distance and predictive environmental cues present. To express allocentric search, Near groups required predictive landmarks and background cues, while Far groups expressed allocentric search with only one cue type present.
Interaction Between Geometric and Non-geometric Cues in Human Spatial Navigation
EDWARD REDHEAD (University of Southampton), Matthew Parker (University of Southampton)
Abstract: Studies of human navigation in a virtual watermaze task (Redhead & Hamilton, 2007) illustrate that a visible goal (platform) disrupts learning about the platform’s location relative to other visible landmarks. Such cue competition is similar to that observed in typical associative learning experiments. Alternatively, learning is not disrupted by a visible platform when the spatial cues were provided by the environment’s shape. These results could be explained if geometric cues are impervious to disruption by other types of cues or are more salient than non-geometric cues. A series of experiments examined the relative salience of geometric and landmark cues. During training the cues were presented in compound such that both cue types could control navigation to the platform. In the test stage the cues where re-arranged so that navigation controlled by shape would result in navigation to one location, whereas navigation controlled by landmarks would result in navigation to a different location. When a hidden platform was used in training the landmarks influenced navigation more than the shape of the pool, whereas the opposite was observed when the platform was visible. The implications of these results will be discussed in terms of how geometric and non-geometric cues interact with the demands of the task.
Sequential and Relational Features of Stimulus Control in Human and Rodent Spatial Navigation
DEREK A. HAMILTON (University of New Mexico), Travis Johnson (University of New Mexico), Edward Redhead (University of Southampton), Steven Verney (University of New Mexico)
Abstract: A growing body of literature demonstrates that rodent navigation that is controlled by visual stimuli primarily involves the selection of a particular direction of movement based on the available cues, rather than navigation to a precise spatial location. Results consistent with this emphasis on directional responding over place navigation have also been demonstrated in humans navigating in virtual environments. This presentation will review the literature concerned with characterizing the relative contributions of direction and place to behavior in standard laboratory navigation tasks. Emphasis will be placed on interactions between apparatus cues that provide a proximal but ambiguous source of control with respect to spatial locations and distal visual cues that are capable of disambiguating spatial locations. It is generally agreed that navigation to a particular place is supported by the latter because the goal’s location can be determined based on its fixed spatial relationship to the available distal cues. Two alternative possibilities that account for the predominance of directional navigation over place navigation will be discussed; 1) that navigation involves sequential and separate processes controlled by room and apparatus cues, respectively, and 2) that navigation involves conditional discriminations in which subjects respond to the apparatus in terms of distal “spatial” cues.



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