The Role of Slope in Human Reorientation
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Studies of spatial representation generally focus on flat environments and visual stimuli. However, the world is not flat, and slopes are part of many natural environments. In a series of four experiments, we examined whether humans can use a slope as a source of allocentric, directional information for reorientation. A target was hidden in a corner of a square, featureless enclosure tilted at a 5° angle. Finding it required using the vestibular, kinesthetic and visual cues associated with the slope gradient. Participants succeeded in the task; however, a large sex difference emerged. Men showed a greater ability in using slope and a greater preference for relying on slope as a searching strategy. The female disadvantage was not due to wearing heeled shoes, but was probably related to a greater difficulty in extracting the vertical axis of the slope.
Keywordsspatial abilities reorientation vertical dimension slope or geographical slant sex differences
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