Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Does the High Level of Navigational Strategy Depend On the Number of Flight Hours or on an Innate Predisposition? The Case of Military Pilots

Version 1 : Received: 28 April 2021 / Approved: 30 April 2021 / Online: 30 April 2021 (15:23:16 CEST)

How to cite: Giancola, M.; Verde, P.; Cacciapuoti, L.; Angelino, G.; Piccardi, L.; Bocchi, A.; Palmiero, M.; Nori, A.R. Does the High Level of Navigational Strategy Depend On the Number of Flight Hours or on an Innate Predisposition? The Case of Military Pilots. Preprints 2021, 2021040790 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202104.0790.v1). Giancola, M.; Verde, P.; Cacciapuoti, L.; Angelino, G.; Piccardi, L.; Bocchi, A.; Palmiero, M.; Nori, A.R. Does the High Level of Navigational Strategy Depend On the Number of Flight Hours or on an Innate Predisposition? The Case of Military Pilots. Preprints 2021, 2021040790 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202104.0790.v1).

Abstract

Background: Military pilots show high visuo-spatial skills. Previous studies demonstrate that they are better in mental rotating a target, in taking different perspectives, in estimating distances, in travel planning and in topographic memory. Here, we compared navigational cognitive styles between military pilots and people without flight experience. Pilots were expected to be more survey users than non-pilots, showing higher navigational strategies. Method: 106 jet military pilots of Italian Air Force and 92 non-pilots were enrolled in order to investigate group differences in navigational styles. Participants were asked to perform a reduced version of the Spatial Cognitive Style Test – SCST, consisting of six tasks that allow to distinguish individuals in landmark (people orient themselves by using a figurative memory for environmental objects), route (people use an egocentric representation of the space) and survey (people have a map-like representation of the space) users. Results: In line with our hypothesis, military pilots mainly adopt a survey style, whereas non-pilots mainly adopt the route style. In addition, pilots outperformed non pilots in both the 3D-Rotation task and Map Description Task. Conclusion: Military flight expertise influences some aspects of the spatial ability, leading to enhance human navigation. Although, it must be considered that they are a population whose navigational skills were already high at the time of selection at the academy before formal training began.

Subject Areas

Cognitive style; Spatial Cognition; Sense of Direction; Spatial Orientation; Mental Rotation; Individual Differences

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