Structural salience of landmark pictograms in maps as a predictor for object location memory performance
Landmarks, salient spatial elements, are often argued to play an important role in the formation of mental representations of space. They are likely to be perceived due to their salience and they can be used as spatial reference points to memorize the locations of other spatial elements. In maps, landmarks are often represented as pictograms. Similar to real world objects, their likelihood to be perceived and used as spatial reference points depends on salience characteristics. In this paper, we investigate the structural salience of landmark pictograms in maps, based on their location relative to a task-relevant object. Using eye tracking, we aimed to identify distance parameters that predict the structural salience of landmark pictograms in an object location memory task. Additionally, we investigated whether the availability of structurally salient landmark pictograms improves object location memory. Our results show that landmark pictograms close to a to-be-learned object and the cardinal axes of the to-be-learned object were fixated more often. However, only the distance to the to-be-learned object was found to be related to object location memory performance. An increased location memory performance was observed when landmark pictograms were available close to the to-be-learned object. We argue that proximity of a landmark pictogram to a task-relevant object location and its cardinal axes can be used as parameters for its structural salience. We also found some first evidence that the availability of structurally salient landmark pictograms may improve object location memory performance.