Human spatial navigation: representations across dimensions and scales

Arne D. Ekstrom, Eve A. Isham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Humans, like many other species, employ three fundamental forms of strategies to navigate: allocentric, egocentric, and beacon. Here, we review each of these different forms of navigation with a particular focus on how our high-resolution visual system contributes to their unique properties. We also consider how we might employ allocentric and egocentric representations, in particular, across different spatial dimensions, such as 1-D versus 2-D. Our high acuity visual system also leads to important considerations regarding the scale of space we are navigating (e.g. smaller, room-sized ‘vista’ spaces or larger city-sized ‘environmental’ spaces). We conclude that a hallmark of human spatial navigation is our ability to employ these representations systems in a parallel and flexible manner, which differ both as a function of dimension and spatial scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-89
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
StatePublished - Oct 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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