Information acquisition in navigation

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Nadeem, Sahar, 1981-

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The retention and recognition of landmarks within large-scale spaces (buildings or cities) plays an important role in way-finding and localization abilities. The current studies investigate our capacity for storing these views and the strategies used in deciding what information is stored and used. To investigate the issue of capacity we trained and tested subjects in six different environments with different levels of complexity. This manipulation was achieved by varying the number of states (position and orientations) within the environment from 10 to 132 in which each state generated a unique view. This manipulation generated environments in which the information content varied from 3 bits to 7.04 bits. We found no evidence of a capacity limitation for up to 7 bits of information. However, we did find that humans consistently lose about 1.25 bits of information regardless of the size of the environment. This finding was consistent in both virtual realty and in real environment. We further studied the nature of the information loss. Can gaze patterns reveal what information is being lost during the encoding process?