The choice of intrinsic axis under multi-cue conditions

  • Jing LiEmail author
  • Ning Xie
  • Weixun Zhao
Research Article


In the course of spatial representation, the choice of intrinsic axis depends on various spatial and non-spatial properties. The main purpose of the current study is to investigate how people choose the intrinsic axis in a virtual reality environment with spatial cues from different categories. Sixty-four participants (32 males and 32 females) each took part in one of two experiments. In each experiment, participants learned a layout comprising seven objects and viewed the scene through a head-mounted display from two perspectives. They then completed partial-scene-recognition tasks. Experiment 1 used objects lacking intrinsic orientations, and the directions of the symmetric axis (45°–315°) and the vertical side (0°–180°) of the mat were incongruent. Experiment 2 used avatars whose orientations were all aligned with the vertical mat side. Response patterns showed that the axis which was consistent with the initial learning perspective was chosen as the intrinsic axis in Experiment 1, while in Experiment 2, the 0°–180° axis was chosen. The results indicated that people would choose the intrinsic axis according to their original egocentric experience when there were two conflicting geometric cues of different categories, but if there were three geometric cues, the axis that was consistent with more cues was more likely to be chosen as intrinsic axis.


Intrinsic frame-of-reference system Intrinsic axis Virtual reality environment Partial scene recognition 



The project was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (31200776) and Natural Science Foundation of the Higher Education Institutions of Jiangsu Province (17KJD190002).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was supported by the IRB of Nanjing Normal University. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10339_2019_903_MOESM1_ESM.docx (38 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 37 kb)


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingChina

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