How does environmental knowledge allow us to come back home?

Laura Piccardi, Massimiliano Palmiero, Alessia Bocchi, Maddalena Boccia, Cecilia Guariglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Herein, we investigate how the three types of mental spatial representation (landmark, route and survey) are reorganized to perform wayfinding and homing behaviour. We also investigate the contribution of visuo-spatial working memory in reaching and in vista space in performing the retracing of the path. For this purpose, we asked 68 healthy college students to learn and come back along an unknown path in a real environment and to perform two different forward and backward working memory tasks, one in the reaching space (Corsi Block-Tapping Test) and the other in a vista space (Walking Corsi Test). The results show that participants performed better when travelling the route forward (which corresponds to the originally learned direction) than when travelling the route backward (return path) and that working memory in vista space is crucial for both wayfinding and homing behaviour, while the working memory for reaching space contributes only to homing behaviour. Although homing behaviour is an early mechanism in navigation shared among many species, it represents a very complex behaviour that requires both topographic and visuo-spatial memory as well as the first two levels of environmental knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Corsi Block-Tapping Test
  • Return path
  • Spatial representation
  • Topographic memory
  • Walking Corsi Test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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