Diversity Within Spatial Cognition: Memory Processes Underlying Place Recognition

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We conducted three experiments to explore distinct memory processes involved in remembering places in spatial environments. The results of all three experiments demonstrated the viability of the process-dissociation procedure for studying spatial cognition; that procedure yielded separate measures of the role of familiarity (implicit memory) and conscious recollection (explicit memory) in recognizing scenes along a previously viewed route of travel. Those measures were not affected by whether the participants viewed videotapes or also physically walked the route of travel. Increasing the delay between encoding and retrieval led to comparable effects for familiarity and conscious recollection (Experiment 1). In contrast, the adverse consequences of dividing attention during encoding were specific to conscious recollection; familiarity estimates were unaffected (Experiments 2 and 3). Overall, the results reinforced the viability of process dissociation as a vehicle for exploring diverse memory processes underlying place recognition.