How would you describe a familiar route or put in order the landmarks along it? It depends on your cognitive style!

Alessia Bocchi, Marco Giancola, Laura Piccardi, Massimiliano Palmiero, Raffaella Nori, Simonetta D’Amico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cognitive style refers to the preference in perceiving, organizing and remembering information. Different cognitive styles have been identified across the years. Amongst others, field-dependence/independence cognitive style is the extent to which the person perceives part of a field as discrete from the surrounding environment as a whole, rather than embedded in the field. Instead, visualizer/verbalizer cognitive style involves the preference in processing visual versus verbal information. Both cognitive styles can influence navigational behaviour. The present study aimed at clarifying the extent to which field-dependence/independence and visualizer/verbalizer cognitive styles affect route-based navigational tasks. Therefore, 44 healthy participants from L’Aquila City were assessed for their cognitive styles and were asked to perform two different navigational tasks: reorder paths using a series of photos depicting landmarks from L’Aquila (visually presented task, visual path task—VisPT); orally describe specific paths of L’Aquila (verbally presented task, verbal path task—VerPT). Results showed that the field-independence cognitive style predicted response times of VisPT, whereas the visualizer/verbalizer cognitive style predicted the instructions given when performing the VerPT, namely, the number of metrical distance indicators provided by participants. By investigating two different cognitive styles, the study clarifies that field-dependence/independence and visualizer/verbalizer cognitive styles can play a different role in spatial navigation and suggests that the material by which a navigational task is presented affects its performance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Field-dependence/independence cognitive style
  • Route-based navigation task
  • Verbal
  • Visual
  • Visualizer/verbalizer cognitive style

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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