The process of spatial knowledge acquisition in a square and a circular virtual environment
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This study investigated the effect of the environmental structure (circular vs. square environment) on spatial knowledge acquisition in a desktop virtual situation in which self-determined movement was allowed with a total of 120 participants: 7-, 8-year-old children; 11, 12-year-old children, and adults. In all measurements of spatial knowledge acquisition an overall developmental performance increase from younger children to adults was found. In contrast to that, the exploration and learning behavior did not differ between adults and children. Furthermore, the environmental structure influenced the number of trials needed to learn the two routes used and the distance walked to the determined landmarks. All these tasks were easier in a circular than in a square environment. This influence of the environmental structure was absent in the direction estimations task. The advantage of spatial knowledge acquisition in a circular environment in three of four tasks is discussed.
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