Spatial memory and perspective taking

Amy L. Shelton, Timothy P. McNamara

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Giving directions or describing an environment often requires assuming perspectives other than one's own. We employed a spatial perspective-taking task to investigate how describing familiar versus novel perspectives affects subsequent memory. One participant (the director) viewed a display of objects from a single perspective and described the display to another participant (the matcher) from a perspective that varied by 0°, 45°, 90°, 135°, or 180° from the viewing perspective. Following the description, we assessed the director's memory for the display, using judgments of relative direction, scene recognition, and map drawing. The participants imagined and recognized familiar views faster and/or more accurately than novel views. Moreover, different tasks showed different degrees of facilitation for the visually perceived and described views, suggesting multiple representations for different aspects of spatial memory. These findings emphasize the importance of understanding distinctions among spatial experiences and underscore differences in the tasks used to probe spatial memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-426
Number of pages11
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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