Cognitive repositioning is crucial for anticipating the content of the visual scene from new vantage points in virtual environments (VE). This repositioning may be performed using either a first-(immersive-like) or a third-person imagery perspective (via an imaginary avatar). A three-phase study examined the effect of mental representation richness and imagery perspective on the anticipation of new vantage points and their associated objects inside an unfamiliar but meaningfully organized VE. Results showed that the initial level of encoding affects the construction of spatial knowledge, whose exploration is then constrained mostly by the imagery perspective that has been adopted, and the spatial arrangement of the environment. A third-person perspective involves mental extrapolation of directions with the help of a scanning process whose rate of processing is faster than the process used to generate the missing 3-D representation of first-person perspectives. Finally, anticipation of a new vantage point precedes access to its associated object mainly when adopting a first-person perspective for exploring the environment. These findings may prove to be of potential interest when defining cognitively valid rules for real-time automatic camera control in VEs.

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