Remembering object position in the absence of vision: egocentric, allocentric, and egocentric decentred frames of reference.Perception 2007; 36(6):850-64P
In three experiments we examined whether memory for object locations in the peri-personal space in the absence of vision is affected by the correspondence between encoding and test either of the body position or of the reference point. In particular, the study focuses on the distinction between different spatial representations, by using a paradigm in which participants are asked to relocate objects explored haptically. Three frames of reference were systematically compared. In experiment 1, participants relocated the objects either from the same position of learning by taking as reference their own body (centred egocentric condition) or from a 90 degrees decentred position (allocentric condition). Performance was measured in terms of linear distance errors and angular distance errors. Results revealed that the allocentric condition was more difficult than the centred egocentric condition. In experiment 2, participants performed either the centred egocentric condition or a decentred egocentric condition, in which the body position during the test was the same as at encoding (egocentric) but the frame of reference was based on a point decentred by 90 degrees. The decentred egocentric condition was found to be more difficult than the centred egocentric condition. Finally, in experiment 3, participants performed in the decentred egocentric condition or the allocentric condition. Here, the allocentric condition was found to be more difficult than the decentred egocentric condition. Taken together, the results suggest that also in the peripersonal space and in the absence of vision different frames of reference can be distinguished. In particular, the decentred egocentric condition involves a frame of reference which seems to be neither allocentric nor totally egocentric.