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Spatial and More Seminar Series

October 19: 12:00 336 Boardman Hall

Chris Bennet, PhD student in Spatial Information Science and Engineering

Evaluating and Alleviating Cognitive Map Decay for Older Adult Navigators through the use of Virtual Reality Simulation

Abstract. The aging process is associated with changes to various tasks of daily life for older adults, e.g. driving and walking. This is particularly challenging in rural areas where public transportation is often non-existent. The current research explored how age affects navigation ability through use of virtual reality simulations. Particularly, these research studies focus on the decay of cognitive maps (mental representations of space) for older adult navigators over time. In each study, participants were required to learn and sketch cognitive maps of various virtual environments at several time intervals (in-lab and after 1-day, 1-week, and 2-weeks). Results consistently show that older adult performance was lower than the younger adult group and also revealed declines of cognitive map accuracy over the time delay periods. Results also demonstrate the efficacy of immersive virtual reality as an effective research tool. Based on these findings, compensatory augmentations (navigational aids) are currently being developed and tested. This research provides evidence for cognitive map decay, implications of potential solutions, and enriches the understanding of navigation and age-related concerns.


November 2: 12:00 336 Boardman Hall

Stacy Doore, PhD student in Spatial Information Science and Engineering


Spatial Preposition Use in Indoor Scene Descriptions

Abstract. In order to provide accurate automated scene description and navigation directions for indoor space, human beings need intelligent systems to provide an effective cognitive model. Information provided by the structure and use of spatial prepositions is critical to the development of accurate and effective cognitive models. The use and choice of spatial prepositions in natural language is extremely varied, presenting difficulties for natural language systems attempting to provide descriptions of indoor scenes and wayfinding directions. The goal of the present study is to better understand how English language speakers use spatial prepositions to communicate spatial relationships within virtual environment (VE) indoor scenes. This talk will present findings from a series of experiments that investigate spatial preposition use and the influence of scale, topology, orientation and distance within indoor scene.


November 19  12:00 336 Boardman Hall

Cyndy Loftin, Associate Professor and Unit Leader, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas (PARCAs): Applying quantitative approaches and expert opinion to identify conservation areas and evaluate vulnerability


Abstract. The PARCA project is a national initiative to map important amphibian and reptile habitats based on knowledge of species’ distributions and habitat associations. We applied PARCA guidelines with species distribution modeling via the Maximum Entropy algorithm to model habitat suitability for northeastern herpetofauna of conservation significance. Our modeled PARCAs combined habitat suitability models based on known species occurrences and important abiotic variables with species richness and landscape integrity estimates. We evaluated our models by comparing predicted with observed data, identified gaps in species occurrence and richness datasets affecting model outcomes, consulted with state herpetologists to understand how our spatial application of the PARCA criteria captured quality habitat for modeled species, and evaluated representation of PARCAs in the network of current conservation lands. Our efforts can inform conservation of priority landscapes for northeastern herpetofauna, including assessment of the long-term vulnerability and climate resiliency of these habitats.


November 30 12:00 336 Boardman Hall

Anne Knowles, Professor of History

Seeking Space and Place in the Holocaust

Abstract. The Holocaust has become a new focus of spatial historical research, both theoretical and empirical. The wealth of bureaucratic records and plans makes it relatively easy to map Nazi actions, the establishment and demise of camps and ghettos, and Nazi spatial visions for the Reich. Although interviews with Holocaust survivors contain many kinds of spatial information, much of it is poorly suited to GIS and other modes of conventional geographical analysis and representation. This presentation will explain the issues of bridging the gap between perpetrator and victim histories in the Holocaust, and describe the modes of textual analysis that may enable spatial interpretation of victims’ experiences.




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