Date of Award
Master of Science
Jonathan W. Kelly
Place cell activity is measured through single-cell recording in animals, though place-responsive cells and related properties have been identified in the human hippocampus. Human behavioral studies would strengthen these findings, especially given the challenge of conducting neuroscientific research on human place-responsive cells. The current study was based on the finding (Lenck-Santini et al., 2005) that rodent place cells partially remap after spatial environmental changes (rotating objects relative to enclosure) but are unaffected by non-spatial changes (object substitution). In two completed studies, human perceived self-location was evaluated in response to spatial and non-spatial changes in a virtual environment (VE). Participants studied object locations in a learning VE with three orienting cues: two landmarks and a featural cue (blue stripe on the wall of the surrounding circular room). Participants then performed judgments of relative direction (JRD) in which they imagined various perspectives using the learned object locations. The JRD task was performed while standing in one of four test VEs which varied in spatial and non-spatial changes relative to the learning VE. Perceived self-location was inferred from the presence/absence of a sensorimotor alignment effect (SAE), indicated by facilitation for imagined perspectives aligned with the body at retrieval. It was expected that the SAE would be present in non-spatial change VEs and absent in spatial change VEs. As predicted, results indicated that non-spatial changes did not disrupt perceived self-location (SAE present). Spatial changes did disrupt perceived self-location (SAE absent), but this effect appeared to depend on participant view at test.
Lucia Annaleigh Cherep
Cherep, Lucia Annaleigh, "Effect of spatial and non-spatial changes on perceived self-location" (2019). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 16988.