Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Geometric 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:  “A geometric property of a surface, line, or point is a property it possesses by virtue of its position relative to other surfaces, lines, and points within the same space.  A non-geometric property is any property that cannot be described by relative position alone” (Gallistel, 1990, p. 212).  In a rectangular arena, metric properties (wall lengths, angles between walls) combined with an agent’s distinction between left and right (e.g., the long wall is to the left of the short wall) provide geometric cues.  .


  1. 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.
  2. Gallistel, C. R. (1990). The Organization Of Learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
(Added September 2010)