Attenuation of alignment effect with exocentric encoding of location.Perception. 2000; 29(7):789-99.P
An object's location is best retrieved from the orientation in which it was learned. Otherwise, retrieval necessitates a mental effort to restore the original perspective. In this case there is a cost to speed and accuracy of location responses known as the alignment effect. We hypothesised that one can attenuate this alignment effect by systematically referring objects in an exocentric frame of reference during learning. Sixteen male students were asked to learn the location of five objects disposed in a totally new environment either by locating the objects in an egocentric or in an exocentric spatial frame of reference. After the learning phase, the participants were asked to imagine orienting themselves to an object in the scene and to point to another object. The analysis of pointing accuracy, orientation, and pointing times showed that the performances of participants engaged in the exocentric condition remained insensitive to the augmentation of the angle between their actual position on the path and the imagined orientation. On the other hand, the participants engaged in egocentric learning were disoriented when the difference between their actual orientation and the imagined orientation was great. We conclude that when an object's location is intentionally referred to in an exocentric reference frame, alignment effect can be significantly reduced.