Author Archives: Paul Hernandez

Spacial Perception to guide your Hike


In today’s world travelling in a car require a GPS in order to get around. The days of paper maps have long since been dated. Yet, there are occasions that maps are needed when there is not GPS coverage.  One such place is at the North end of the Grand Canyon to South end via a walking trail through the valley below. In order to traverse through the valley there are certain skills that are needed from a directional point of view; Map, 3d visual perception; height, length, and depth, and decision factor.

One of the items needed is a Map, the map I found was developed in two dimensions and so I had to find another map for depth (Topography). These maps did not lay out how the actual trails were in the valley between each area but enough information to help develop a mental map.

Once the map was analyzed for its data and imbedded in the mind, it became a 3d work of mental art, so I seemed. Over the course of the first mile, it was concluded that the mental image of the map is actually different from the actual trail as the point of reference changes. This visual confirmation corrected the brain map to coincide with the perception noted. I continued to hike another mile and more changes to the perception of the trail to my mental map. Once the mental map was finally adjusted, at every break I would scan my mental map and determine the next miles of hiking. The difference in my mental visual perception was that now mentally I was spinning the mental map in my head as I visualized the trail. Depending on the difficulty, I would lay out my hike pattern within 2 miles or 5 miles. The 2 miles was faster to map then the 5 miles.

The third aspect was the decisions that had to be made based on water signs, they were determined when studying the actual physical map, on the mental visual map.  These decisions also were on outside temperature, humidity, and fatigue factor. Each one was a sensory input that had to analyzed and incorporated to the decision for the hike success.

In each factor of navigation though the Grand Canyon relied on mental visualization and the perception of the trail relative to the orientation of where I faced (North, South). Spatial layout of the Grand Canyon with the trail and the topography made the journey without unnecessary stress. Yet, using “tacit knowledge explanation because it states that participants unconsciously use knowledge about the world in making their decisions” (Goldstein, 2011) But it is clear that when I visualized several different distances, it did take longer to determine visual representations of the distance on the trail to each goal. This is because as I visualized the trail, I kept imagining, based on experience, that the topography changes and adds or reduces the hike resistance therefore, making my decision to reach next hiking goal meaningful. Ultimately, my mental map guided the decision tree as all inputs; visual and biometrics were assessed contributed to a successful hike efficiently complete in 12 hours.




Cognitive Psychology, Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience, E. Bruce Goldstein, 2011

Post Blog 2- A Memory

In the events of memory, I was walking down the road in an unfamiliar place in the town of Stone Harbor New Jersey when I smelled a familiar smell of my youth. It immediately took be back to the old neighborhood. I could see my house where I was raised, the houses of my neighbors, even the cars I have seen day in and day out. It was a flash of a memory so old yet it seemed so real. Then the smell shifted and the memory slowly faded.

In the process of the smell, it was a sensory long term memory that was made by an implicit conditioning memory. This memory was not consciously made but over time the memory of the smell was conditioned into my memory and associated it my old neighborhood. “Classic conditioning occurs when pairing an initially neutral stimulus taking on new properties.” (Goldstein, 2014)

Another aspect that it’s an episodic memory associated to an historical memory, “Episodic memory is that involves mental time travel- the experience of travelling back in time to reconnect with events that happened in the past.”(Goldstein, 2014) Although the memory was triggered by my olfactory, it took me down memory lane.

This process of isolating a distinguishable smell that triggered a memory seems not to be a common occurrence.  There was a study “Effect of smell presentation on individuals with regard to eye catching and memory” (Akira Tomono, Koyori Kanda, Syunya Otake, 2011) which introduce how association of visual objects are better enhanced with olfactory smell. We found that appropriate smell presentation contributes to an object’s conspicuity and memorability. “Analysis of gaze time and retention time showed that when smell is not presented, a viewer’s eye moves frequently in a wide range, thus attempting to acquire as much information as possible. On the other hand, with smell presentation, the viewer is more likely to concentrate on the relevant objects.” (Akira Tomono, Koyori Kanda, Syunya Otake, 2011)

To conclude, the reason why I was able to recall the mental visual picture was because my mind associated that specific smell and bonded it with the memory of my neighborhood. Yet, when I visually imagine my neighborhood, I do not smell the scent nor can I recall it. Hence, the association is one directional and conditioned.




Cognitive Psychology- Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience, E. Goldstein, 2014

Effect of smell presentation on individuals with regard to eye catching and memory, Akira Tomono, Koyori Kanda, Syunya Otake, Version of Record online: 17 FEB 2011

Car Wash- Perpetual motion

Have you ever sat in your car as you’re washing your car in a car wash and grab your steering wheel because you thought the car was moving? Me too, I was washing my car in a drive in car wash, the car was set to a parked position yet the rollers provided the feeling of the car moving forward or backwards thus giving the appearance of the car moving.

When you park in the car wash, you know the car is not going to move yet the movement of the rollers deceives the eyes which in turn deceives the mind that the car is moving. Over time, we have been conditioned and have been an automated process that cars move. Also the building has been non-mobile and foundationally nonmoving. The association of the car being the mobile vehicle and not the building conditioned since driving provides reinforcement of the notion that the car is moving.

The condition provides locomotion to the object, car, at rest for the same reason we associate the perception of depth of or location of building or object. This perception alters our perception based on our learned conditioning of what we should expect. We perceive the state of reality from what we know to be real within our boundaries. Hence, a room height is perceived by the normal room height we walk in daily. Yet, if we alter the ceiling height and change the visual perception of the height, it would seem that someone walking the halls of the altered ceiling height is growing.

Thus, based on the normality or expectations of what we know as a norm can be skewed by our mind’s perception of changes not registered by either our eyes or hands. This in the end may throw us off until we see the mechanism or understanding of the cause of the perception modifications. So enter the car wash and enjoy the perception of motion without pressing down on the breaks!