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Place Learning and Spatial Navigation

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Spatial learning in animals; Spatial memory


Spatial navigation is the process by which organisms use multiple cue sources such as path integration, magnetic cues, landmarks, and beacons to determine the route to a goal and then travel that route.

Theoretical Background

Any animal that moves must “plan” where it is going and how to get there.

Most animals face the problem of resources, such as food or mates, being separate from the organism’s place of refuge (home, nest, etc.). The animal must then acquire a cognitive map of its surroundings and use the information in that representation of the real world to navigate most efficiently, and safely, to and from the resource.

The demands of a spatial navigation problem are quite different than those of an animal associating two stimuli as in classical (Pavlovian) conditioning or in instrumental conditioning. It seems likely then that navigation is served by a different set of systems or modules than those used in...

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Correspondence to David R. Brodbeck .

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Brodbeck, D.R., Tanninen, S.E. (2012). Place Learning and Spatial Navigation. In: Seel, N.M. (eds) Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. Springer, Boston, MA.

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