From Visual Information to Cognitive Maps

  • M. Jeanne Sholl
Part of the GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL, volume 32)


It has been suggested that much of animal navigation takes place without reference to visual information in the environment (Gallistel 1990). A geocentric dead reckoning process, which tracks the travel trajectory of animals internally with only periodic reference to external visual cues, is thought to be a major component underlying animal navigation. Following Gibson (1979),and in contrast to the non-visual emphesis for animal navigation, two types of structure in visual flow are thought to be important for human navigation: perspective structure, which specifies self-motion and self-to-object relations, and invariant structure, which specifies object-to-object relations. A review of the cognitive mapping literature for sighted and blind human adults suggests that the invariant structure in visual flow is important to the formation of cognitive maps, or survey knowledge, of environments. In contrast, a geocentric dead reckoning process which uses the self-movement information provided by perspective structure may be importantly involved in the formation of route knowledge. Findings reviewed from studies of the development of navigational skills in children are consistent with the idea that cognitive mapping skills develop in concert with the ability to perceptually differentiate perspective and invariant structure in visual flow.


Optical Flow Target Event Invariant Structure Dead Reckoning Instrumental Conditioning 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Jeanne Sholl
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBoston CollegeChestnut Hill

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