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Andrew McAvan

Graduate Student
Research Area:

Human spatial navigation and decision making in non-Euclidean VR spaces.

I am interested in studying how humans navigate and make decisions in non-Euclidean spaces. To achieve this, I develop experiments using the Unity 3D game engine in conjunction with cutting-edge VR technology. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona, where I worked with multiple labs assessing not only retention rates of children in the Pima County DES system, but also exploring how humans react to stress. Post undergrad I worked at an in-patient rehabilitation facility for individuals with substance abuse and mood disorders, followed by the Human Spatial Cognition Lab at the University of Arizona. In my free time, I enjoy playing games of all kinds (tabletop, video, etc.), exploring nature, and creating things.

Representative Publications

Du, Y. K., McAvan, A. S., Zheng, J., & Ekstrom, A. D. (under revision). Spatial memory distortions for the shapes of walked paths occur in violation of physically experienced geometry. PsyArXiv.

McAvan, A. S., Wank, A. A., Rapcsak, S. Z., Grilli, M. D., & Ekstrom, A. D. (2022). Largely intact memory for spatial locations during navigation in an individual with dense amnesia. Neuropsychologia, 170:108225.

McAvan, A. S., Du, Y. K., Oyao, A., Doner, S., Grilli, M. D., & Ekstrom, A. D. (2021). Older Adults Show Reduced Spatial Precision but Preserved Strategy-Use During Spatial Navigation Involving Body-Based Cues. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 13:640188. Doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2021.640188

Starrett, M. J., McAvan, A. S., Huffman, D. J., Stokes, J. D., Kyle, C. T.,
Smuda, D. N., Kolarik, B. S., Laczko, J., & Ekstrom, A. D. (2021).
Landmarks: A solution for spatial navigation and memory experiments in
virtual reality. Behavior Research Methods, 53(3), 1046-1059.

Zheng, L., Gao, Z., McAvan, A. S., Isham, E., & Ekstrom, A. D. (2021) Partially overlapping spatial environments trigger reinstatement in hippocampus and schema representations in prefrontal cortex. Nature Communications, 12, 6231.