Young Children's Spatial Orientation With Respect to Multiple Targets When Walking Without Vision

John J. Rieser, Vanderbilt University's Peabody College
Elizabeth A. Rider, Elizabethtown College


During locomotion, people need to keep up-to-date on their changing spatial orientation so that they can coordinate the force and direction of their actions with their surroundings. In 4 experiments concerning spatial orientation while walking without vision, 4-year-olds and adults viewed 1 or more targets, were blindfolded, were guided to a new point of observation, and were asked to aim a pointer at the target(s). Spatial orientation was assessed as a function of the number of target objects (1, 3, or 5), the complexity of the route walked, and the time delay between last viewing the targets and responding. The number of targets did not influence accuracy. The significant effects of age and route complexity on spatial orientation are discussed in terms of processes involved in visual perception of distance, in sensitivity to proprioceptive information while walking, and in calibration of the scale of vision and proprioception.