In rectangular arenas, rats often confuse diagonally opposite corners, even when distinctive cues differentiate them. This led to the postulation that rats rely preferentially on the geometry of space, encoded in a dedicated geometric module. Recent research casts doubt on this idea. Distinctive featural cues such as entire walls of a distinct color can hinder or aid the learning of geometry. In one situation in which using geometry would help greatly, rats had trouble learning the task. An associative model has been developed to capture these different learning processes, and view-based matching has been proposed as an alternative to the explicit coding of geometric cues. Considerations about how cues interact in learning are crucial in a recent theory of human spatial cognition.