Electrocortical Evidence for Long-Term Incidental Spatial Learning Through Modified Navigation Instructions

  • Anna WunderlichEmail author
  • Klaus Gramann
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11034)


The use of Navigation Assistance Systems for spatial orienting has become increasingly popular. Such automated navigation support, however, comes with a reduced processing of the surrounding environment and often with a decline of spatial orienting ability. To prevent such deskilling and to support spatial learning, the present study investigated incidental spatial learning by comparing standard navigation instructions with two modified navigation instruction conditions. The first modified instruction condition highlighted landmarks and provided additional redundant information regarding the landmark (contrast condition), while the second highlighted landmarks and included information of personal interest to the participant (personal-reference condition). Participants’ spatial knowledge of the previously unknown virtual city was tested three weeks later. Behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) data demonstrated enhanced spatial memory performance for participants in the modified navigation instruction conditions without further differentiating between modified instructions. Recognition performance of landmarks was better and the late positive complex of the event-related potential (ERP) revealed amplitude differences reflecting an increased amount of recollected information for modified navigation instructions. The results indicate a significant long-term spatial learning effect when landmarks are highlighted during navigation instructions.


Spatial navigation EEG Navigation assistance system Incidental learning 



This work was supported by a stipend from the Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft to AW. We would like to thank Matthias Rötting at TU Berlin for providing the car simulator facilities and Sabine Grieger for helping to conduct the experiment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biological Psychology and NeuroergonomicsBerlin Institute of TechnologyBerlinGermany
  2. 2.School of SoftwareUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Center for Advanced Neurological EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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