Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Feature Cues

An arena that is used in the reorientation task can provide two different kinds of navigational information, geometric cues and feature cues (Cheng & Newcombe, 2005). Geometric cues are relational, while feature cues are not.  Feature cues involve using nonrelational features to provide local, disambiguating information.  For instance, one arena wall can have a different color than the others (Cheng, 1986), or different colored patterns can be placed at each corner of the arena (Kelly, Spetch, & Heth, 1998). Of interest in the reorientation task is that even when feature cues are sufficient to perform the task, agents also pay attention to (unnecessary) geometric cues.


  1. Cheng, K. (1986). A purely geometric module in the rat's spatial representation. Cognition, 23, 149-178.
  2. Cheng, K., & Newcombe, N. S. (2005). Is there a geometric module for spatial orientation? Squaring theory and evidence. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12(1), 1-23.
  3. Kelly, D. M., Spetch, M. L., & Heth, C. D. (1998). Pigeons' (Columba livia) encoding of geometric and featural properties of a spatial environment. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 112(3), 259-269.

(Added September 2010)