A software tool for the experimental investigation of cognitive effects in audiovisual maps
The increasing importance of cognitively oriented visualization in cartography implies the use of modern approaches of experimental user studies. Such experiments are usually standardized, and researchers try to avoid confounding factors as much as possible. Therefore, modern experimental studies are based on digital, software-based methods and techniques to fulfil the demands. A set of established standard software exists which can partly be adopted to individual research questions in cartography and spatial cognition. However, these tools have not primarily been developed for the field of cartography and, thus, cartographic peculiarities are missing. For example, this can be related to the implementation of multimedia, incl. auditory (map) stimuli to investigate the impact of specific sound elements on cognitive processing in audiovisual cartography. This may also refer to the way (behavioural) user data measured during spatial tasks in maps are presented to the analyst. To make use of a more cartography-focused study software which can be used in map-based studies on spatial memory performance, an individual software tool was programmed. The tool is based on the object-oriented programming language ActionScript 3.0 and allows an easy customization due to its simplicity. The tool can be exported in the runtime system Adobe AIR and is highly suitable for lab studies. This paper presents some functionalities and peculiarities of this tool, including several examples of the written and commented scripting code.