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Nature. 1994 Jul 7;370(6484):57-9.

A geometric process for spatial reorientation in young children.

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Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.


Disoriented rats and non-human primates reorient themselves using geometrical features of the environment. In rats tested in environments with distinctive geometry, this ability is impervious to non-geometric information (such as colours and odours) marking important locations and used in other spatial tasks. Here we show that adults use both geometric and non-geometric information to reorient themselves, whereas young children, like mature rats, use only geometric information. These findings provide evidence that: (1) humans reorient in accord with the shape of the environment; (2) the young child's reorientation system is impervious to all but geometric information, even when non-geometric information is available and is re-presented by the child--such information should improve performance and is used in similar tasks by the oriented child; and (3) the limits of this process are overcome during human development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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