Cognitive Path Planning With Spatial Memory Distortion

Rohit K. Dubey, Samuel S. Sohn, Tyler Thrash, Christoph Holscher, Andre Borrmann, Mubbasir Kapadia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Human path-planning operates differently from deterministic AI-based path-planning algorithms due to the decay and distortion in a human's spatial memory and the lack of complete scene knowledge. Here, we present a cognitive model of path-planning that simulates human-like learning of unfamiliar environments, supports systematic degradation in spatial memory, and distorts spatial recall during path-planning. We propose a Dynamic Hierarchical Cognitive Graph (DHCG) representation to encode the environment structure by incorporating two critical spatial memory biases during exploration: categorical adjustment and sequence order effect. We then extend the 'Fine-To-Coarse' (FTC), the most prevalent path-planning heuristic, to incorporate spatial uncertainty during recall through the DHCG. We conducted a lab-based Virtual Reality (VR) experiment to validate the proposed cognitive path-planning model and made three observations: (1) a statistically significant impact of sequence order effect on participants' route-choices, (2) approximately three hierarchical levels in the DHCG according to participants' recall data, and (3) similar trajectories and significantly similar wayfinding performances between participants and simulated cognitive agents on identical path-planning tasks. Furthermore, we performed two detailed simulation experiments with different FTC variants on a Manhattan-style grid. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed cognitive path-planning model successfully produces human-like paths and can capture human wayfinding's complex and dynamic nature, which traditional AI-based path-planning algorithms cannot capture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3535-3549
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


  • Cognitive path-planning
  • agglomerative hierarchical clustering
  • fine-to-course
  • human wayfinding
  • spatial memory


Dive into the research topics of 'Cognitive Path Planning With Spatial Memory Distortion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this