Cognitive Processing

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 377–389 | Cite as

Error detection and error memory in spatial navigation as reflected by electrodermal activity

  • Lisa Holper
  • Natalie Jäger
  • Felix Scholkmann
  • Martin Wolf
Research Report


The study investigated spatial navigation by means of electrodermal activity (EDA). Two groups of healthy subjects (group 1, age <38; group 2, age ≥38) were recorded during navigation through two 3-D virtual mazes differing in difficulty, that is, Maze Simple (MazeS) and Maze Complex (MazeC). Our results show (1) an effect of difficulty, that is, larger skin conductance responses (SCRs) and slower velocity profiles while navigating through MazeC as compared to MazeS. (2) An effect of age, that is, larger SCRs and faster velocity profiles in younger subjects (group 1) compared to older subjects (group 2). (3) An effect of maze region, that is, SCRs increased when subjects entered dead ends with group 1 (young group) decreasing in velocity, whereas group 2 (old group) increased in velocity. (4) And an error memory effect, that is, subjects who remembered an error at a given decision point (crossroads preceding dead ends in MazeC) from previous trials, and then if they did not repeat that error, elicited decreased SCRs as compared to subjects who did not remember and subsequently repeated an error. The latter aspect is the most impactful as it shows that EDA is able to reflect error detection and memory during spatial navigation. Our data designate EDA as suitable monitoring tool for identification and differentiation of the affective correlates underlying spatial navigation, which has recently attracted researchers’ attention due to its increased use in 3-D virtual environments.


Electrodermal activity (EDA) Skin conductance response (SCR) Autonomic nervous system (ANS) Virtual reality maze Spatial navigation Error detection Error memory Age 

Supplementary material

10339_2013_567_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 24 kb)


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Holper
    • 1
  • Natalie Jäger
    • 1
  • Felix Scholkmann
    • 1
  • Martin Wolf
    • 1
  1. 1.Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory (BORL), Division of NeonatologyUniversity Hospital ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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