Project Leaders

Stephan de la Rosa
Phone: +49 7071 601 606
Fax: +49 7071 601 616
Opens window for sending emaildelarosa[at]
Tobias Meilinger
Phone: +49 7071 601 615
Fax: +49 7071 601 616
Opens window for sending emailtobias.meilinger[at]



Opens internal link in current windowGroup Members


13.6.2016 Manuscript accepted "Meilinger, T.,* Strickrodt, M.,* & Bülthoff, H.H. (accepted). Qualitative differences between environmental and vista space memory are caused by the separation of space, not by movement or successive perception. Cognition [*equal contributions]"
21.4.2016 Manuscript published Opens external link in new window"Meilinger, T. & Watanabe, K. (2016). Multiple Strategies for Spatial Integration of 2D Layouts within Working Memory. PLoS ONE, 11, 1-22."
20.4.2016 Tobi finished his Habilitation.
31.3.2016 Our manuscript Opens external link in new window"Visual adaptation dominates bimodal visual-motor action adaptation." got published in Scientific Reports.
8.2.2016 Manuscript published: Opens external link in new windowde la Rosa, S., Schillinger, F., Bülthoff, H., Schultz, J., Uludag, K. (accepted). fMRI adaptation between action observation and action execution reveals cortical areas with mirror neuron properties in human BA 44/45. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
1.2.2016 Manuscript published: Opens external link in new windowde la Rosa, S. , Ekramnia M., Bülthoff H.H. (accepted). Action recognition and movement direction discrimination tasks are associated with different adaptation patterns. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
1.2.2016 Paper published: Meilinger, T., Schulte-Pelkum, J., Frankenstein, J., Hardiess, G. Mallot, H.A., Bülthoff, H.H. (2016). How to best name a place? Facilitation and inhibition of route learning due to descriptive and arbitrary location labels. Frontiers in Psychology,7, 1-7.
29.1.2016 Paper published: Opens external link in new windowJung, E., Takahashi, K., Watanabe, K, de la Rosa, S. Butz, M.V., Bülthoff, H.H. & Meilinger, T. (accepted). The Influence of Human Body Orientation on Distance Judgments. Frontiers in Psychology
8.1-2016 Manuscript published: Opens external link in new windowFademrecht L.,Bülthoff I., de la Rosa, S.. Action recognition in the visual periphery. Journal of Vision
24.1.2016 Manuscript accepted: Hinterecker, T., Knauff, M., Johnson-Laird, P. N. (accepted). Modality, probability, and mental models. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.
6.1.2016 Paper published: Saulton, A., Longo, M. R., Wong, H. Y., Bülthoff, H. H., & de la Rosa, S. (2016). Opens external link in new windowThe role of visual similarity and memory in body model distortions. Acta Psychologica, 164, 103–111.
24.12.2015 Paper published: Strickrodt, M., O'Malley, M., & Wiener, J. M. (2015). This Place Looks Familiar—How Navigators Distinguish Places with Ambiguous Landmark Objects When Learning Novel Routes. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.
1.12.15 Paper published: Chang D-S., Burger F., Bülthoff H.H., (2015). The Perception of Cooperativeness Without Any Visual or Auditory Communication. i-Perception 6(6) 1-6, doi: 10.1177/2041669515619508
01.06.15: Manuscript accepted: Meilinger, T., * Frankenstein, J., * Simon, N., Bülthoff, H.H., & Bresciani, J.-P. (accepted). Not all memories are the same: situational context influences spatial recall within ones city of residency. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. [*equal contributions]
01.02.2015: Manuscript 'Objects exhibit body model like shape distortions' of Aurelie Saulton got accepted.
02.12.2014: Symposium at ECVP 2015 on 'Interactive Social Perception and Action' accepted (organizers: de la Rosa, Canal-Bruland, Bülthoff)
02.12.2014: Opens external link in new windowDong-Seon Chang gave his science slam in front of the German Minister of Education and Research.
01.12.2014: Opens external link in new windowDong-Seon Chang won the National German Science Slam competition.

21.11.2014: Manuscript about 'Categorization of social interactions' accepted in Visual Cognition.
19.11.2014: Opens external link in new windowDong-Seon Chang won the 10th Science Slam in Stuttgart (on national TV).
10.11.14 Manuscript "Reference frames in learning from maps and navigation" accepted in Psychological Research

08.11.14 Manuscript "When in doubt follow your nose: a wayfinding strategy" accepted in Frontiers in Psychology
01.10.2014: Stephan de la Rosa organized a Symposium on Social Interaction at KogWis

28.9.2014: Dong-Seon Chang organized Doctoral symposium at KogWis

20.9.2014: Aurelie Saulton won 2nd price in Science Slam at Visions in Science meeting

31.3.2014: Interview with Stephan and Tobi in ORF Radiokolleg


Spatial Cognition

We examine how navigators acquire, memorize and use information about everyday spatial environments such as rooms, buildings, and cities. Which reference frames do they use? How do navigators profit from movement trajectories, maps, and descriptions? Which memory system is employed? Are vertical directions treated differently from horizontal ones? How can the results be framed theoretically?

Learning and navigating complex environments

Knowledge about complex city and building environments acquired from navigation is represented in multiple, local reference frames corresponding, for example, to streets or corridors. This local information also incorporates local geometry as defined by walls. Contrary, (prior) map exposure yields a single, map-up oriented reference frame which is used for configurational or survey tasks within novel and highly familiar environments, but not for selecting routes. The underlying route knowledge focuses on turns which is enabled by a default strategy of walking straight. Route guidance providing unambiguous turning information will yield enhanced wayfinding performance.
Marianne Strickrodt, Tobias Meilinger
C. Hölscher, J. Frankenstein, B.E. Riecke, B.J. Mohler, T. Wolbers, R. Conroy Dalton, H.A. Mallot,
- Meilinger, T., * Frankenstein, J., * Simon, N., Bülthoff, H.H., & Bresciani, J.-P. (in press). Not all memories are the same: situational context influences spatial recall within ones city of residency. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. [*equal contributions]
- Meilinger, T.,  Frankenstein, J, Watanabe, K. , Bülthoff, H.H. & Hölscher, C. (2015). Reference frames in learning from maps and navigation. Psychological Research, 79, 1000-1008.
- Meilinger, T., Riecke, B.E., Bülthoff, H.H. (2014). Local and global reference frames for environmental spaces. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67, 542-569. 
- Meilinger, T., Frankenstein, J., Bülthoff, H.H. (2014). When in doubt follow your nose - a wayfinding strategy. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1-7.
- Meilinger, T., Frankenstein, J., Bülthoff, H.H. (2013). Learning to navigate: experience vs. maps. Cognition, 129, 24-30.
- Frankenstein, J., Mohler, B.J., Bülthoff, H.H. & Meilinger, T. (2012). Is the Map in Our Head Oriented North? Psychological Science, 23, 120-125.
- Meilinger, T., Franz, G., & Bülthoff, H. H. (2012). From Isovists via Mental Representations to Behaviour: First Steps Toward Closing the Causal Chain. Environment and Planning B, 39, 48-62.
- Basten, K. Meilinger, T., Mallot, H.A. (2012). Mental travel primes place orientation in spatial recall. In Spatial Cognition VIII, Eds. C. Stachniss, K. Schill, D.H. Uttal (Berlin: Springer), 378-385.
-  Hölscher, C., Büchner, S. J., Meilinger, T., & Strube, G. (2009). Adaptivity of wayfinding strategies in a multi-building ensemble - the effects of spatial structure, task requirements and metric information. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 208-219.
- Hölscher, C., Büchner, S. J., Brösamle, M., Meilinger, T., & Strube, G. (2007). Signs and Maps: Cognitive Economy in the Use of External Aids for Indoor Navigation. 29th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 377–382).
- Meilinger, T., Hölscher, C., Büchner, S. J., & Brösamle, M. (2006). How Much Information Do You Need? Schematic Maps in Wayfinding and Self Localisation. International Conference Spatial Cognition 2006 (pp. 381–400).

Spatial integration

Rooms, buildings and cities cannot be grasped within one glance. In order to get their overall structure, one has to integrate multiple experiences which relate via movement trajectories or common landmarks. We showed that reference frames used for integration depend on the learning time, available movement trajectories and the knowledge from where to use the information afterwards. Integration of city streets happens within an incremental process conducted from one current location.
Tobias Meilinger, Agnes Henson, Mary O'Malley, Katsuhisa Kawaguchi
K. Watanabe, J. Wiener, A. Berthoz, H.A. Mallot,
- O’Malley, M., Bülthoff, H.H., Meilinger, T. (2014). How to find a shortcut within a city? Mental walk vs. mental model. 56. Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen.
- Meilinger, T.*, Berthoz, A. & Wiener, J.M.* (2011). The integration of spatial information across different perspectives. Memory & Cognition, 39, 1042-1054. [* equal contributions]
- Henson, A., Mallot, H.A., Bülthoff, H.H., Meilinger, T. (2011). When do we integrate spatial information acquired by walking through environmental spaces? 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2764-2769.
- Meilinger, T., Bülthoff, H.H. (2010). The Direction Bias and the Incremental Construction of Survey Knowledge. 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2500-2505.
- Meilinger, T. & Watanabe, K. (submitted). Multiple strategies for spatial integration.

Self-movement perception and representation of 3D space

Humans locomote along the horizontal plane. However, within buildings they also have a vertical position. This project examines whether vertical movements are perceived in the same way as horizontal movements and how spaces extending also vertically such as buildings or cupboards are represented in memory. Therefore this project bridges perception and memory.
Thomas Hinterecker, Caroline Leroy, Tobias Meilinger,
Christoph Hölscher, Michael Barnett-Cowan, Manuel Vidal, Mintao Zhao, Martin Butz
- Barnett-Cowan, M., Meilinger, T., Vidal, M., Teufel, H., & Bülthoff, H.H. (2012) MPI CyberMotion Simulator: Implementation of a Novel Motion Simulator to Investigate Multisensory Path Integration in Three Dimensions. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 63, 1-6
- Hölscher, C., Meilinger, T., Vrachliotis, G., Brösamle, M., & Knauff, M. (2006). Up the down staircase: next term Wayfinding strategies in multi-level buildings. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 26, 284–299.

Verbal and non-verbal codes in spatial memory

In which format do humans represent their environment? Our results indicate that room locations and routes learned from navigation as well as from maps are not only encoded spatially, but also in a verbal code, e.g. as descriptions. The usefulness of verbal encoding, however, seems to depend on already established long-term associations between corresponding verbal and spatial elements, e.g., the label "T-intersection" and a spatial representation of a T-intersection.
Tobias Meilinger
H.A. Mallot, M. Knauff, G. Hardiess
- Meilinger, T., Schulte-Pelkum, J., Frankenstein, J., Hardiess, G. Mallot, H.A., Bülthoff, H.H. (2016). How to best name a place? Facilitation and inhibition of route learning due to descriptive and arbitrary location labels. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1-7.
- Meilinger, T. & Bülthoff, H.H. (2013). Verbal shadowing and visual interference in spatial memory. PLOS ONE, 8, 1-9.
- Meilinger, T., Knauff, M., & Bülthoff, H. H. (2008). Working memory in wayfinding - a dual task experiment in a virtual city. Cognitive Science, 32, 755-770.
- Meilinger, T. & Knauff, M. (2008). Ask for your way or use a map: A field experiment on spatial orientation and wayfinding in an urban environment. Journal of Spatial Science, 53, 13-23.

Theoretical foundations of spatial cognition

This research is concerned with conceptions of how space can be represented and processed theoretically and in the light of current empirical data. We argue that simple egocentric and allocentric conceptions are not sufficient to capture complex situations and suggest combining them into complex representations. I also proposed a theory for self-localisation, route- and survey navigation in environmental spaces.
Tobias Meilinger
G. Vosgerau, H.A. Mallot, G. Hardiess
- Hardiess, G., Meilinger, T., & Mallot, H.A. (2015). Virtual Reality and Spatial Cognition. In J.D. Wright (Ed), International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences (pp. 133-137). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
- Vosgerau, G. Knoll, A., Meilinger, T. & Vogeley, K. (2013). Representation. In A. Stephan & S. Walter (Eds.), Handbuch Kognitionswissenschaft (pp. 386-401). Stuttgart: Metzler
- Meilinger, T. & Vosgerau, G. (2010). Putting Egocentric and Allocentric into Perspective. In C. Hölscher, C., T. F. Shipley, M. Olivetti Belardinelli, J. A. Bateman, N. S. Newcombe (Eds.), Spatial Cognition VII, LNAI 6222 (pp. 207-211). Berlin: Springer.
 - Meilinger, T. (2008). The network of reference frames theory: A synthesis of graphs and cognitive maps. In C. Freksa, N.S. Newcombe, P. Gärdenfors & S. Wölfl (Eds.), Spatial Cognition VI, LNAI 5248 (pp. 344-360). Berlin: Springer.
Last updated: Wednesday, 15.06.2016