Spatial behavior: The impact of global and local geometry

Dafna Ben-Yehoshua, Osnat Yaski, David Eilam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Humans and other animals use the global geometry of the surrounding environment in order to orient and determine which direction they are facing. Accordingly, the impact of environment geometry on spatial behavior is reflected in the paths of progression in the environment. When the perception of the global geometry is limited, such as in large or dark environments, the global geometry of the environment has to be constructed gradually as the accumulated geometry of locales. In the present study, we progressively altered the form of a dark square test arena by means of local alterations to its corners and walls, in order to differentiate the impact of the global arena geometry from that of the local arena geometry sectors on spatial behavior in rats. We found that as long as the local alterations did not distort the global square geometry of the dark environment, the rats' behavior did not significantly change. In contrast, distortion of the square shape of the arena resulted in significant changes in the spatial distribution of the rats' activity. Accordingly, we suggest that the perceived global geometry affects spatial behavior, overriding the impact of the local geometry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Cognitive map
  • Environment geometry
  • Exploration
  • Geometric module
  • Home-base behavior
  • Navigation
  • Spatial behavior


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