Friday, December 18, 2009

Research bytes 12-18-09: Gv research on spatial text processing and vis-spatial working memory & understanding maps

Meneghetti, C., Gyselinck, V., Pazzaglia, F., & DeBeni, R. (2009). Individual differences in spatial text processing: High spatial ability can compensate for spatial working memory interference. Learning and Individual Differences, 19(4), 577-589.

The present study investigates the relation between spatial ability and visuo-spatial and verbal working memory in spatial text processing. In two experiments, participants listened to a spatial text (Experiments 1 and 2) and a non-spatial text (Experiment 1), at the same time performing a spatial or a verbal concurrent task, or no secondary task. To understand how individuals who differ in spatial ability process spatial text during dual task performance, spatial individual differences were analyzed. The tasks administered were the Vandenberg and Kuse [Vandenberg, S. G., & Kuse, A. R. (1978). Mental rotation, a group test of three-dimensional spatial visualization. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 47, 599-604.] mental rotation test (MRT) and a reading comprehension task (RCT). Individuals with high (HMR) and low (LMR) mental rotation differed in MRT scores but had similar RCT performance. Results showed that the HMR group, in contrast with LMR counterparts, preserved good spatial text recall even when a spatial concurrent task was performed; however, Experiment 2 revealed a modification of spatial concurrent task performance in LMR as well in HMR group. Overall, results suggest that HMR individuals have more spatial resources than LMR individuals, allowing them to compensate for spatial working memory interference, but only to a limited extent, given that the processing of spatial information is still mediated by VSWM.

Liben, L. S. (2009). The Road to Understanding Maps. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(6), 310-315.

Children and even some adults struggle to understand and use maps. In the symbolic realm, users must appreciate that the marks on a surface stand for environments and must understand how to interpret individual symbols. In the spatial realm, users must understand how representational space is used to depict environmental space. To do so, they must understand the consequences of cartographic decisions about the map's viewing distance, viewing angle, viewing azimuth, and geometric projection. Research identifies age-linked progressions in symbolic and spatial map understanding that are linked to normative representational and spatial development, and reveals striking individual differences. Current work focuses on identifying experiences associated with better map understanding. New technologies for acquiring, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying geo-referenced data challenge users and researchers alike.

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