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Mar 2001
ISBN 0262072130
440 pp.
82 illus.
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Spatial Schemas and Abstract Thought
Merideth Gattis

Humans and other animals depend on their ability to perceive and represent spatial aspects of the world. We learn spatial schemas by observing the locations and movements of objects (including people) and the configuration of our environment. This book explores the role these spatial schemas play in abstract, nonspatial tasks. Evidence suggests that we adapt spatial schemas for three basic purposes in abstract cognition: to structure memory, to structure communication, and to structure reasoning.

Are spatial schemas mere metaphors that help us to understand cognitive processes or are they actual internal mechanisms? Evidence for the latter suggests that the cognitive structures we develop to perceive, navigate, and remember space are the indispensable foundation of more abstract cognitive tasks. This book proposes the means by which spatial structures might be adapted for nonspatial purposes, and it considers alternatives to spatial coding as a basis for abstract thought.

The book is organized into three parts: the representation and use of space, spatial schemas in cultural contexts, and the kinds of computational and neurological structures that might be involved in abstract thought. The contributors include cognitive psychologists, developmental psychologists, linguists, anthropologists, and computer scientists.

Table of Contents
 Acknowledgments
1 Space as a Basis for Abstract Thought
by Merideth Gattis
I Representing and Using Space
2 Spatial Representation and the Use of Spatial Codes in Animals
by William A. Roberts
3 Thinking through Maps
by Lynn S. Liben
4 Spatial schemas in Depictions
by Barbara Tversky
II Spatial Schemas in Cultural Contexts
5 Cultural Specificity of Spatial Schemas as Manifested in Spontaneous Gestures
by Sotaro Kita, Eve Danzinger and Christel Stolz
6 Space on Hand: The Exploitation of Signing Space to Illustrate Abstract Thought
by Karen Emmorey
7 Children's Mathematics: Lost and Found in Space
by Peter Bryant and Sarah Squire
III Adapting Space for Abstract Thought
8 Spatial Metaphors in Temporal Reasoning
by Dedre Gentner
9 Reading Pictures: Constraints on Mapping Conceptual and Spatial Schemas
by Merideth Gattis
10 Spatial Representation as Cause and Effect: Circular Causality Comes to Cognition
by Brendan McGonigle and Margaret Chalmers
11 A Process Model of Human Transitive Inference
by John E. Hummel and Keith J. Holyoak
 References
 Contributors
 Name Index
 Subject Index
 
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Related Topics
Linguistics, Language
Neuroscience
Psychology, Cognitive Science


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