Route learning in virtual environments: Egocentric and allocentric representations of space

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Typically-developing children and adults predominantly use a ‘sequential egocentric’ strategy for navigating through unfamiliar environments. This refers to a representation of an environment based on an individual’s own body-centred spatial frame of reference (understanding the location of landmarks and paths in relation to the self). Between the ages of 5 and 10 years, TD children are more able to use an ‘allocentric’ strategy, which requires an understanding of the spatial relationships between objects in the environment and therefore the use of an environment-based spatial frame of reference (understanding the location of items in relation to each other, independent of the self) (Bullens et al., 2010). 

On small-scale spatial tasks, research has shown that typically developing children under 5-6 years of age and individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) have difficulties in taking into account the global structure of an array of objects and so do not seem to employ an allocentric strategy (Nardini et al., 2006; 2008). Difficulties are also experienced by young TD children and by individuals with WS in other small-scale spatial tasks such as mental rotation and large-scale spatial tasks that require spatial relational knowledge. During my PhD I  invesitgated whether these difficulties are related to difficulties in using an allocentric strategy in TD children and in individuals with WS.



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Research publications from Hannah's PhD

Broadbent, H. J., Farran, E. K., & Tolmie, A. (2015). Sequential egocentric navigation and reliance on landmarks in Williams syndrome and typical development. Frontiers in Psychology, 6. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00216

Broadbent, H., Farran, E.K., Chin, E., Metcalfe, K., Tassabehji, M., Turnpenny, P., Sansbury, F., Meaburn, E., Karmiloff-Smith, A. (2014). Genetic contributions to visuospatial cognition in Williams syndrome: Insights from two contrasting partial deletion patients. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 6, 18. doi: 10.1186/1866-1955-6-18

Broadbent, H. J., Farran, E. K., Tolmie, A. (2014). Object-based mental rotation and visual perspective-taking in typical development and Williams syndrome. Developmental Neuropsychology, 39, 205-225. doi: 10.1080/87565641.2013.876027

Broadbent, H. J., Farran, E. K., Tolmie, A. (2014). Egocentric and allocentric navigation strategies in typical development and Williams syndrome. Developmental Science, 17, 920-934. doi: 10.1111/desc.12176

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Cognition, Genes and Developmental Variability Lab 

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