After disorientation, human adults reorient within a symmetric geometric environment using featural information as well as the shape of the surrounding space, whereas children younger than 6 years do not. The hypothesis that use of features is due to language has been supported by findings that human adults behave like children when reorienting while performing a linguistic shadowing task (Hermer-Vazquez, Spelke, & Katsnelson, 1999). In this study we conducted a replication of the Hermer-Vazquez et al. (1999) Experiment 1, together with a condition involving more explicit information regarding the nature of the task. In this study, we also added a condition involving a spatial secondary task. Successful reorientation was more common in the explicit condition than in the exact replication, although above chance even in the latter. Reorientation was lowest for participants performing the spatial secondary task. These results provide evidence against the idea that language is necessary to overcome the encapsulation found among children and rats when trying to integrate geometric and featural information.
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