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Title: The 'Aha!' experience of spatial reorientation
Author: Charalambous, Efrosini
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 5811
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The experience of spatial re-orientation is investigated as an instance of the wellknown phenomenon of the Aha! moment. The research question is: What are the visuospatial conditions that are most likely to trigger the spatial Aha! experience? The literature suggests that spatial re-orientation relies mainly on the geometry of the environment and a visibility graph analysis is used to quantify the visuospatial information. Theories from environmental psychology point towards two hypotheses. The Aha! experience may be triggered by a change in the amount of visual information, described by the isovist properties of area and revelation, or by a change in the complexity of the visual information associated with the isovist properties of clustering coefficient and visual control. Data from participants' exploratory behaviour and EEG recordings are collected during wayfinding in virtual reality urban environments. Two types of events are of interest here: (a) sudden changes of the visuospatial information preceding subjects' response to investigate changes in EEG power; and (b) participants brain dynamics (Aha! effect) just before the response to examine differences in isovist values at this location. Research on insights, time-frequency analysis of the P3 component and findings from navigation and orientation studies suggest that the spatial Aha! experience may be reflected by: a parietal alpha power decrease associated with the switch of the representation and a frontocentral theta increase indexing spatial processing during decision-making. Single-trial time-frequency analysis is used to classify trials into two conditions based on the alpha/theta power differences between a 3s time-period before participants' response and a time-period of equal duration before that. Behavioural results show that participants are more likely to respond at locations with low values of clustering coefficient and high values of visual control. The EEG analysis suggests that the alpha decrease/theta increase condition occurs at locations with significantly lower values of clustering coefficient and higher values of visual control. Small and large decreases in clustering coefficient, just before the response, are associated with significant differences in delta/theta power. The values of area and revelation do not show significant differences. Both behavioural and EEG results suggest that the Aha! experience of re-orientation is more likely to be triggered by a change in the complexity of the visual-spatial environment rather than a change in the amount, as measured by the relevant isovist properties.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available