It has been documented that when memorizing a physical space, the person's mental representation of that space is biased with distortion and segmentation. Two experiments reported here suggest that distortion and segmentation arise due to a hierarchical organization of the spatial representation. The spatial relations associated with salient landmarks are more strongly encoded and easier to recall than those associated with non-salient landmarks. In the presence of multiple salient landmarks, multiple intrinsic frames of reference are formed and spatial relations are anchored to each individual frame of reference. Multiple such representations may co-exist and interactively determine a person's spatial performance.
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