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Compares the performance of good and poor cognitive mappers on a variety of spatial knowledge acquisition and judgment tasks. Cognitive mapping skill was assessed by measuring subjects' knowledge of a highly overlearned environment, their home community. Subjects categorized as good or poor cognitive mappers participated in a series of experiments that examined learning a novel environment from navigation experience, map learning, map using and map interpretation, spatial judgments based on a memorized map, and navigation in a novel environment based on a memorized map. Good mappers performed more accurately than poor mappers in learning a novel environment, learning maps, and making spatial judgments based on a memorized map. Map using, map interpretation, and navigation tasks did not distinguish good from poor mappers. The authors conclude that, relative to poor mappers, good cognitive mappers are better able to encode and retain spatial information in memory and to mentally transform or manipulate spatial information in order to make spatial judgments, and they hypothesize that differences in spatial visualization and visual memory abilities may underlie these variations in task performance.

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