People often lose their way when they are trying to find a particular place. In Japan we call such a person “houkou onchi”. This is a common Japanese expression which means to have no sense of direction. Whether people are “houkou onchi” or not seems to be related to the quality of their cognitive maps, their ability to navigate and the navigation processes they employ. This research aims to reveal what “houkou onchi” is. To investigate this, I have focused on the difference between the navigation processes of people who are good and poor at navigating.
The subjects undertook a series of tasks which involved watching video films of routes (taken from a moving car). I have analyzed their learning processes and their navigation simulation performance to understand how they interact with the environment they are moving through, while they are acquiring and using information. I have observed a number of features of houkou onchi. Such people do not interact well with the environment during route learning and navigation. They do not always focus on the relevant information required for navigation when they learn the route. Moreover, they cannot form useful cognitive maps after they have learnt the route, and they cannot effectively use such cognitive maps to navigate in space they have already visited. I have observed various kinds of interaction with the environment, and I will discuss the importance of this interaction to navigation.