Cognitive Path Planning with Spatial Memory Distortion

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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)
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Agglomerative Hierarchical Clustering
  • Cognitive Path-Planning
  • Computational modeling
  • Data models
  • Distortion
  • Fine-To-Course
  • Games
  • Human Wayfinding
  • Navigation
  • Solid modeling
  • Spatial Memory
  • Task analysis


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

Cite this