This paper discusses spatialcognition in the domain of minimally invasive surgery. It draws on studies from this domain to shed light on a range of spatial cognitive processes and to consider individual differences in performance. In relation to modeling, the aim is to identify potential opportunities for characterizing the complex interplay between perception, action, and cognition, and to consider how theoretical models of the relevant processes might prove valuable for addressing applied questions about surgical performance (...) and training. (shrink)
Our ability to process spatial information is fundamental for understanding and interacting with the environment, and it pervades other components of cognitive functioning from language to mathematics. Moreover, technological advances have produced new capabilities that have created research opportunities and astonishing applications. In this Topic on Modeling SpatialCognition, research crossing a variety of disciplines and methodologies is described, all focused on developing models to represent the capacities and limitations of human spatialcognition.
We present a general cognitive architecture that tightly integrates symbolic, spatial, and visual representations. A key means to achieving this integration is allowing cognition to move freely between these modes, using mental imagery. The specific components and their integration are motivated by results from psychology, as well as the need for developing a functional and efficient implementation. We discuss functional benefits that result from the combination of multiple content-based representations and the specialized processing units associated with them. Instantiating (...) this theory, we then discuss the architectural components and processes, and illustrate the resulting functional advantages in two spatially and visually rich domains. The theory is then compared to other prominent approaches in the area. (shrink)
This study investigated the relative contribution of perception/cognition and language-specific semantics in nonverbal categorization of spatial relations. English and Korean speakers completed a video-based similarity judgment task involving containment, support, tight fit, and loose fit. Both perception/cognition and language served as resources for categorization, and allocation between the two depended on the target relation and the features contrasted in the choices. Whereas perceptual/cognitive salience for containment and tight-fit features guided categorization in many contexts, language-specific semantics influenced categorization (...) where the two features competed for similarity judgment and when the target relation was tight support, a domain where spatial relations are perceptually diverse. In the latter contexts, each group categorized more in line with semantics of their language, that is, containment/support for English and tight/loose fit for Korean. We conclude that language guides spatial categorization when perception/cognition alone is not sufficient. In this way, language is an integral part of our cognitive domain of space. (shrink)
In previous analyses of the influence of language on cognition, speech has been the main channel examined. In studies conducted among Yucatec Mayas, efforts to determine the preferred frame of reference in use in this community have failed to reach an agreement (Bohnemeyer & Stolz, 2006; Levinson, 2003 vs. Le Guen, 2006, 2009). This paper argues for a multimodal analysis of language that encompasses gesture as well as speech, and shows that the preferred frame of reference in Yucatec Maya (...) is only detectable through the analysis of co-speech gesture and not through speech alone. A series of experiments compares knowledge of the semantics of spatial terms, performance on nonlinguistic tasks and gestures produced by men and women. The results show a striking gender difference in the knowledge of the semantics of spatial terms, but an equal preference for a geocentric frame of reference in nonverbal tasks. In a localization task, participants used a variety of strategies in their speech, but they all exhibited a systematic preference for a geocentric frame of reference in their gestures. (shrink)
The more carefully we look, the more impressive the repertoire of infant concepts seems to be. Across a wide range of tasks, infants seem to be using concepts corresponding to surprisingly high-level and abstract categories and relations. It is tempting to try to explain these abilities in terms of a core capacity in spatialcognition that emerges very early in development and then gets extended beyond reasoning about direct spatial arrays and events. Although such a spatial (...) cognitive capacity may indeed form one valuable basis for later cognitive growth, it seems unlikely that it can be the sole or even primary explanation for either the impressive conceptual capacities of infants or the ways in which concepts develop. (shrink)
Wynn's thesis that the acquisition of the rules of symmetry comprised the formative factor in the evolution of human spatialcognition is questioned on several grounds, including the ubiquity of symmetry across species and the apparent hard-wired nature of its evolution in both humans and animals.
Wynn's model for the evolution of spatialcognition is well supported by fossil evidence from brain endocasts, and from neurological studies of the cerebellum and the posterior parietal region of the cerebral cortex. Wynn's intriguing hypothesis that the spatial skill reflected in artifacts is an index of navigational ability, could be further explored by an analysis of lithic transport patterns.
Jeffery et al. accurately identify the importance of developing an understanding of spatial reference frames in a three-dimensional world. We examine human spatialcognition via a unique paradigm that investigates the role of saliency and adjusting reference frames. This includes work with adults, typically developing children, and children who develop non-typically (e.g., those with autism).
Perception and conceptualization of space are some of the most basic elements of human cognition. It has been long assumed that human spatial thinkingand frames of reference used to grasp and describe the location of an object in relation to other objects are of universal nature and so are projected in naturallanguages in basically the same manner; three principal dimensions in egocentric perceptual space were distinguished: up-down, front-back and left-right, reflecting our biological make-up. If differences in spatial (...) terminology were observed, they were relegated to surface structure phenomena, but were not regarded as differences in perceptual and conceptual representations in the human mind. That belief in the universal perception of spatial relations among humans was ofconsiderable importance for some philosophical theories, also for Husserl’s conception of the Lebenswelt a priori and his defence of the validity of scientificpropositions and of absolute truth. It now appears that the extent of the diversity in spatial thinking has been drastically underestimated (Levinson 2003), but it does not follow that Husserl’s intuitions regarding the existence of universal constituents in incompatible Lebenswelt experiences were necessarily wrong. (shrink)
This paper explores some of the constructive dimensions and specifics of human theoretic cognition, combining perspectives from (Husserlian) genetic phenomenology and distributed cognition approaches. I further consult recent psychological research concerning spatial and numerical cognition. The focus is on the nexus between the theoretic development of abstract, idealized geometrical and mathematical notions of space and the development and effective use of environmental cognitive support systems. In my discussion, I show that the evolution of the theoretic (...) class='Hi'>cognition of space apparently follows two opposing, but in truth, intrinsically aligned trajectories. On the epistemic plane, which is the main focus of Husserl’s genetic phenomenological investigations, theoretic conceptions of space are progressively constituted by way of an idealizing emancipation of spatialcognition from the concrete, embodied intentionality underlying the human organism’s perception of space. As a result of this emancipation, it ultimately becomes possible for the human mind to theoretically conceive of and posit space as an ideal entity that is universally geometrical and mathematical. At the same time, by synthesizing a range of literature on spatial and mathematical cognition, I illustrate that for the theoretic mind to undertake precisely this emancipating process successfully, and further, for an ideal and objective notion of geometrical and mathematical space to first of all become fully scientifically operative, the cognitive support provided by a range of specific symbolic technologies is central. These include lettered diagrams, notation systems, and more generally, the technique of formalization and require for their functioning various cognitively efficacious types of embodiment. Ultimately, this paper endeavors to understand the specific symbolic-technological dimensions that have been instrumental to major shifts in the development of idealized, scientific conceptions of space. The epistemic characteristics of these shifts have been previously discussed in genetic phenomenology, but without devoting sufficient attention to the constructive role of symbolic technologies. At the same time, this paper identifies some of the irreducible phenomenological and epistemic dimensions that characterize the functioning of the historically situated, embodied and distributed theoretic mind. (shrink)
This article presents an approach to understanding human spatial competence that focuses on the representations and processes of spatialcognition and how they are integrated with cognition more generally. The foundational theoretical argument for this research is that spatial information processing is central to cognition more generally, in the sense that it is brought to bear ubiquitously to improve the adaptivity and effectiveness of perception, cognitive processing, and motor action. We describe research spanning multiple (...) levels of complexity to understand both the detailed mechanisms of spatialcognition, and how they are utilized in complex, naturalistic tasks. In the process, we discuss the critical role of cognitive architectures in developing a consistent account that spans this breadth, and we note some areas in which the current version of a popular architecture, ACT-R, may need to be augmented. Finally, we suggest a framework for understanding the representations and processes of spatial competence and their role in human cognition generally. (shrink)
Around 540 million years ago there was a sudden, dramatic adaptive radiation known as the Cambrian Explosion. This event marked the origin of almost all of the phyla (major lineages characterized by fundamental body plans) of animals that would ever live on earth, as well the appearance of many notable features such as rigid skeletons and other hard parts, complex jointed appendages, eyes, and brains. This radical evolutionary event has been a major puzzle for evolutionary biologists since Darwin, and while (...) our understanding of it has recently improved with new fossil finds, richer molecular phylogenies, and better grasp of ecological, evolutionary, and developmental processes generally, unanswered questions remain. In this paper I argue that a basic cognitive toolkit for embodied, object-oriented, spatialcognition (what I call Basic Cognitive Embodiment) is a practical necessity for control of a large, mobile, complexly articulated body in space. This hypothesis allows us to relate the complexification of animal bodies to the complexification of perception, cognition and behavior in a way that can help to fill in gaps in our emerging picture of the Cambrian Explosion, as well as shed light on the deep evolutionary origins of the mind. (shrink)
Anxiety can be distracting, disruptive, and incapacitating. Despite problems with empirical replication of this phenomenon, one fruitful avenue of study has emerged from working memory (WM) experiments where a translational method of anxiety induction (risk of shock) has been shown to disrupt spatial and verbal WM performance. Performance declines when resources (e.g., spatial attention, executive function) devoted to goal-directed behaviors are consumed by anxiety. Importantly, it has been shown that anxiety-related impairments in verbal WM depend on task difficulty, (...) suggesting that cognitive load may be an important consideration in the interaction between anxiety and cognition. Here we use both spatial and verbal WM paradigms to probe the effect of cognitive load on anxiety-induced WM impairment across task modality. Subjects performed a series of spatial and verbal n-back tasks of increasing difficulty (1, 2, and 3-back) while they were safe or at risk for shock. Startle reflex was used to probe anxiety. Results demonstrate that induced-anxiety differentially impacts verbal and spatial WM, such that low and medium-load verbal WM is more susceptible to anxiety-related disruption relative to high-load, and spatial WM is disrupted regardless of task difficulty. Anxiety impacts both verbal and spatial processes, as described by correlations between anxiety and performance impairment, albeit the effect on spatial WM is consistent across load. Demanding WM tasks may exert top-down control over higher-order cortical resources engaged by anxious apprehension, however high-load spatial WM may continue to experience additional competition from anxiety-related changes in spatial attention, resulting in impaired performance. By describing this disruption across task modalities, these findings inform current theories of emotion-cognition interactions and may facilitate development of clinical interventions that seek to target cognitive impairments associated with anxiety. (shrink)
Spatial-numerical associations (SNAs) are prevalent yet their origin is poorly understood. We first consider the possible prime role of reading habits in shaping SNAs and list three observations that argue against a prominent influence of this role: (1) directional reading habits for numbers may conflict with those for non-numerical symbols, (2) short-term experimental manipulations can overrule the impact of decades of reading experience, (3) SNAs predate the acquisition of reading. As a promising alternative, we discuss behavioral, neuroscientific and neuropsychological (...) evidence in support of finger counting as the most likely initial determinant of SNAs. Theoretical implications of this “manumerical cognition” stance for the distinction between grounded, embodied, and situated cognition are discussed. (shrink)
Spatial neglect is a neurological condition characterized by a breakdown of spatialcognition contralateral to hemispheric damage. Deficits in spatial attention towards the contralesional side are considered to be central to this syndrome. Brain lesions typically involve right fronto-parietal cortices mediating attentional functions and subcortical connections in underlying white matter. Convergent findings from neuroimaging and behavioral studies in both animals and humans suggest that the cholinergic system might also be critically implicated in selective attention by modulating (...) cortical function via widespread projections from the basal forebrain. Here we asked whether deficits in spatial attention associated with neglect could partly result from a cholinergic deafferentation of cortical areas subserving attentional functions, and whether such disturbances could be alleviated by pro-cholinergic therapy. We examined the effect of a single-dose transdermal nicotine treatment on spatial neglect in 10 stroke patients in a double-blind placebo-controlled protocol, using a standardized battery of neglect tests. Nicotine induced systematic improvement on cancellation tasks and facilitated orienting to single visual targets, but had no significant effect on other tests. These results support a global effect of nicotine on attention and arousal, but no effect on other spatial mechanisms impaired in neglect. (shrink)
We present a spatial system called Specialized Egocentrically Coordinated Spaces embedded in an embodied cognitive architecture (ACT-R Embodied). We show how the spatial system works by modeling two different developmental findings: gaze-following and Level 1 perspective taking. The gaze-following model is based on an experiment by Corkum and Moore (1998), whereas the Level 1 visual perspective-taking model is based on an experiment by Moll and Tomasello (2006). The models run on an embodied robotic system.
Archaeology can provide two bodies of information relevant to the understanding of the evolution of human cognition – the timing of developments, and the evolutionary context of these developments. The challenge is methodological. Archaeology must document attributes that have direct implications for underlying cognitive mechanisms. One example of such a cognitive archaeology is found in spatialcognition. The archaeological record documents an evolutionary sequence that begins with ape-equivalent spatial abilities 2.5 million years ago and ends with (...) the appearance of modern abilities in the still remote past of 400,000 years ago. The timing of these developments reveals two major episodes in the evolution in spatial ability, one, 1.5 million years ago and the other, one million years later. The two episodes of development in spatialcognition had very different evolutionary contexts. The first was associated with the shift to an open country adaptive niche that occurred early in the time range of Homo erectus. The second was associated with no clear adaptive shift, though it does appear to have coincided with the invasion of more hostile environments and the appearance of systematic hunting of large mammals. Neither, however, occurred in a context of modern hunting and gathering. Key Words: Archaeology; evolution; Homo erectus; spatialcognition; symmetry. (shrink)
The present paper briefly reviews recent advances in spatialcognition. A central tenet in spatialcognition is that spatial information is simultaneously encoded in multiple formats. It also appears that at the level of neural processing there is no clear distinction between the representation of space and the control of action. I will argue that these findings offer novel insight into the nature of dance and choreography and that the concepts used by cognitive neuroscientists to (...) frame their findings can be fruitfully applied in a choreographic setting. Finally, I will speculate that both dancing oneself and watching dance may enhance one’s experience of space. (shrink)
We argue that the locomotion of organisms is better understood as a form of interaction with a subjective environment, rather than as a set of behaviors allegedly amenable to objective descriptions. An organism's interactions with its subjective environment are in turn understandable in terms of its cognitive architecture. We propose a large-scale classification of the possible types of cognitive architectures, giving a sketch of the subjective structure that each of them superimposes on space and of the relevant consequences on locomotion. (...) The classification comprises a main division between nonrepresentational and representational architectures and further subdivisions. (shrink)
The study of spatialcognition has provided considerable insight into how animals (including humans) navigate on the horizontal plane. However, the real world is three-dimensional, having a complex topography including both horizontal and vertical features, which presents additional challenges for representation and navigation. The present article reviews the emerging behavioral and neurobiological literature on spatialcognition in non-horizontal environments. We suggest that three-dimensional spaces are represented in a quasi-planar fashion, with space in the plane of locomotion (...) being computed separately and represented differently from space in the orthogonal axis bicoded.” We argue that the mammalian spatial representation in surface-travelling animals comprises a mosaic of these locally planar fragments, rather than a fully integrated volumetric map. More generally, this may be true even for species that can move freely in all three dimensions, such as birds and fish. We outline the evidence supporting this view, together with the adaptive advantages of such a scheme. (shrink)
I propose that it is premature to assert that a fully three-dimensional map has never evolved in any species, as data are lacking to show that space coding in all animals is the same. Instead, I hypothesize that three-dimensional representation is tied to an animal's mode of locomotion through space. Testing this hypothesis requires a large body of comparative data.
Classifying spatial frames of references have placed egocentric/body-based representations on muddy grounds. The traditional taxonomy places it under the deictic distinction while the Levinson’s terminology does not provide a special status for it but classifies it along with the relative frame of reference. Research from other areas of cognition has come up with other implied classifications that are motivated by the special role played by these egocentric representation(s). Tangled among such issues is the fuzzy distinction between egocentric and (...) body based representations. The current paper takes up exactly this issue and proposes to sub classify egocentric representations into two different subtypes namely the first- and the second-order representations. The proposed distinction serves an essential purpose for understanding important cognitive processes like spatial transformation, mental perspective taking, and so on. (shrink)
Evidence for a dysfunction in cognitive coordination in schizophrenia is emerging, but it is not specific enough to prove (or disprove) this long-standing hypothesis. Many aspects of the external world are spatially mapped in the brain. A comprehensive internal representation relies on integration of information across space. Focus on spatial integration in the perceptual and cognitive processes will generate empirical data that shed light on the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.
In spatial development representations of the environment and the use of spatial cues change over time. To date, the influence of individual differences in skills relevant for orientation and navigation has not received much attention. The current study investigated orientation abilities on the basis of visual spatial cues in two-to-three-year-old children, and assessed factors that possibly influence spatial task performance. Thirty-month and 35-month-olds performed an on-screen Virtual Reality orientation task searching for an animated target in the (...) presence of visual self-movement cues and landmark information. Results show that, in contrast to 30-month-old children, 35-month-olds were successful in using visual spatial cues for maintaining orientation. Neither age group benefited from landmarks present in the environment, suggesting that successful task performance relied on the use of optic flow cues, rather than object-to-object relations. Analysis of individual differences revealed that two-year-olds who were relatively more independent in comparison to their peers, as measured by the daily living skills scale of the parental questionnaire Vineland-Screener were most successful at the orientation task. These results support previous findings indicating that the use of various spatial cues gradually improves during early childhood. Our data show that a developmental transition in spatial cue use can be witnessed within a relatively short period of 5 months only. Furthermore, this study indicates that rather than chronological age, individual differences may play a role in successful use of visual cues for spatial updating in an orientation task. Future studies are necessary to assess the exact nature of these individual differences. (shrink)
The slow speed of neural transmission necessitates that cortical visual information from dynamic scenes will lag reality. The “perceiving the present” (PTP) hypothesis suggests that the visual system can mitigate the effect of such delays by spatially warping scenes to look as they will in ~100 ms from now (Changizi, 2001). We here show that the Hering illusion, in which straight lines appear bowed, can be induced by a background of optic flow, consistent with the PTP hypothesis. However, importantly, the (...) bowing direction is the same whether the flow is inward or outward. This suggests that if the warping is meant to counteract latencies, it is accomplished by a simple strategy that is insensitive to motion direction, and that works only under typical (forward-moving) circumstances. We also find that the illusion strengthens with longer pulses of optic flow, demonstrating motion integration over ~80 ms. The illusion is identical whether optic flow precedes or follows the flashing of bars, exposing the spatial warping to be equally postdictive and predictive, i.e., peri-dictive. Additionally, the illusion is diminished by cues which suggest the bars are independent of the background movement. Collectively, our findings are consistent with a role for networks of visual orientation-tuned neurons (e.g., simple cells in primary visual cortex) in spatial warping. We conclude that under the common condition of forward ego-motion, spatial warping counteracts the disadvantage of neural latencies. It is not possible to prove that this is the purpose of spatial warping, but our findings at minimum place constraints on the PTP hypothesis, demonstrating that any spatial warping for the purpose of counteracting neural delays is not a precise, on-the-fly computation, but instead a heuristic achieved by a simple mechanism that succeeds under normal circumstances. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to explore, from a phenomenologically informed perspective, the phenomenon of the operative spatialization of human thinking, viewed in its relationship with the embodied human organism’s spatial experience. Operative spatialization in this context refers to the cognitive role and functioning of spatial schematizations and differentiations in human thinking. My particular focus is the domain of conceptualization. By drawing on Husserl’s discussion of the (linguistic) process of a sedimentation of meaning, I aim to show (...) that spatialization functions in a structurally ambivalent manner. On the one hand, spatialization predisposes and thus narrows the scope of human conceptual thought. On the other hand, spatialization establishes an implicit cognitive scaffold indispensable for the development and practice of human higher-order thinking. The structure and functioning of this scaffold, I argue, is intrinsically related to the spatial structure and dynamics of human embodiment. Synthesizing insights from phenomenological studies concerning the experiential constitution of space, and classic and recent research findings from fields such as cognitive linguistics and psychology concerning the cognitive dimension of image-schemas and gestural behavior, I argue that the living human body functions centrally as the sense-constitutive ‘site of conversion’ (Husserl) between concrete structures of spatial experience and abstract structures of conceptual thought. (shrink)
Sketching is a powerful means of working out and communicating ideas. Sketch understanding involves a combination of visual, spatial, and conceptual knowledge and reasoning, which makes it both challenging to model and potentially illuminating for cognitive science. This paper describes CogSketch, an ongoing effort of the NSF-funded Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, which is being developed both as a research instrument for cognitive science and as a platform for sketch-based educational software. We describe the idea of open-domain sketch (...) understanding, the scientific hypotheses underlying CogSketch, and provide an overview of the models it employs, illustrated by simulation studies and ongoing experiments in creating sketch-based educational software. (shrink)
Recent research has demonstrated an asymmetry between the origins and endpoints of motion events, with preferential attention given to endpoints rather than beginnings of motion in both language and memory. Two experiments explore this asymmetry further and test its implications for language production and comprehension. Experiment 1 shows that both adults and 4-year-old children detect fewer within-category changes in source than goal objects when tested for memory of motion events; furthermore, these groups produce fewer references to source than goal objects (...) when describing the same motion events. Experiment 2 asks whether the specificity of encoding source/goal relations differs in both spatial memory and the comprehension of novel spatial vocabulary. Results show that endpoint configuration changes are detected more accurately than source configuration changes by both adults and young children. Furthermore, when interpreting novel motion verbs, both age groups expect more fine-grained lexical distinctions in the domain of endpoint configurations compared to that of source configurations. These studies demonstrate that a cognitive-attentional bias in spatial representation and memory affects both the detail of linguistic encoding during the use of spatial language and the specificity of hypotheses about spatial referents that learners build during the acquisition of the spatial lexicon. (shrink)
Differences between men and women in the performance of tests designed to measure spatial abilities are explained by evolutionary psychologists in terms of adaptive design. The Hunter-Gatherer Theory of Spatial Ability suggests that the adoption of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle (assuming a sexual division of labor) created differential selective pressure on the development of spatial skills in men and women and, therefore, cognitive differences between the sexes. Here, we examine a basic spatial skill—wayfinding (the ability to plan (...) routes and navigate a landscape)—in men and women in a natural, real-world setting as a means of testing the proposition that sex-based differences in spatial ability exist outside of the laboratory. Our results indicate that when physical differences are accounted for, men and women with equivalent experience perform equally well at complex navigation tasks in a real-world setting. We conclude that experience, gendered patterns of activity, and self-assessment are contributing factors in producing previously reported differences in spatial ability. (shrink)
For many centuries, philosophers and scientists have pondered the origins and nature of human intuitions about the properties of points, lines, and figures on the Euclidean plane, with most hypothesizing that a system of Euclidean concepts either is innate or is assembled by general learning processes. Recent research from cognitive and developmental psychology, cognitive anthropology, animal cognition, and cognitive neuroscience suggests a different view. Knowledge of geometry may be founded on at least two distinct, evolutionarily ancient, core cognitive systems (...) for representing the shapes of large-scale, navigable surface layouts and of small-scale, movable forms and objects. Each of these systems applies to some but not all perceptible arrays and captures some but not all of the three fundamental Euclidean relationships of distance (or length), angle, and direction (or sense). Like natural number (Carey, 2009), Euclidean geometry may be constructed through the productive combination of representations from these core systems, through the use of uniquely human symbolic systems. (shrink)
The Aymara of the Andes use absolute (cardinal) frames of reference for describing the relative position of ordinary objects. However, rather than encoding them in available absolute lexemes, they do it in lexemes that are intrinsic to the body: nayra (“front”) and qhipa (“back”), denoting east and west, respectively. Why? We use different but complementary ethnographic methods to investigate the nature of this encoding: (a) linguistic expressions and speech–gesture co-production, (b) linguistic patterns in the distinct regional Spanish-based variety Castellano Andino (...) (CA), (c) metaphorical extensions of CA’s spatial patterns to temporal ones, and (d) layouts of traditional houses. Findings indicate that, following fundamental principles of Aymara cosmology, people, objects, and land—as a whole—are conceived as having an implicit canonical orientation facing east, a primary landmark determined by the sunrise. The above bodily based lexicalizations are thus linguistic manifestations of a broader macro-cultural worldview and its psycho-cognitive reality. (shrink)
Mental spatial knowledge processing often uses spatio-analogical or quasipictorial representation structures such as spatial mental models or mental images. The cognitive architecture Casimir is designed to provide a framework for computationally modeling human spatial knowledge processing relying on these kinds of representation formats. In this article, we present an overview of Casimir and its components. We briefly describe the long-term memory component and the interaction with external diagrammatic representations. Particular emphasis is placed on Casimir’s working memory and (...) control mechanisms. Regarding working memory, we describe the conceptual foundations and the processing mechanisms employed in mental spatial reasoning. With respect to control, we explain how it is realized as a distributed, emergent facility within Casimir. (shrink)
Is vision informationally encapsulated from cognition or is it cognitively penetrated? I shall argue that intentions penetrate vision in the experience of visual spatial constancy: the world appears to be spatially stable despite our frequent eye movements. I explicate the nature of this experience and critically examine and extend current neurobiological accounts of spatial constancy, emphasizing the central role of motor signals in computing such constancy. I then provide a stringent condition for failure of informational encapsulation that (...) emphasizes a computational condition for cognitive penetration: cognition must serve as an informational resource for visual computation. This requires proposals regarding semantic information transfer, a crucial issue in any model of informational encapsulation. I then argue that intention provides an informational resource for computation of visual spatial constancy. Hence, intention penetrates vision. (shrink)
Concepts of space and time are widely developed in physics. However, there is a considerable lack of biologically plausible theoretical frameworks that can demonstrate how space and time dimensions are implemented in the activity of the most complex life-system – the brain with a mind. Brain activity is organized both temporally and spatially, thus representing space-time in the brain. Critical analysis of recent research on the space-time organization of the brain’s activity pointed to the existence of so-called operational space-time in (...) the brain. This space-time is limited to the execution of brain operations of differing complexity. During each such brain operation a particular short-term spatio-temporal pattern of integrated activity of different brain areas emerges within related operational space-time. At the same time, to have a fully functional human brain one needs to have a subjective mental experience. Current research on the subjective mental experience offers detailed analysis of space-time organization of the mind. According to this research, subjective mental experience (subjective virtual world) has definitive spatial and temporal properties similar to many physical phenomena. Based on systematic review of the propositions and tenets of brain and mind space-time descriptions, our aim in this review essay is to explore the relations between the two. To be precise, we would like to discuss the hypothesis that via the brain operational space-time the mind subjective space-time is connected to otherwise distant physical space-time reality. (shrink)
We propose a modular ontology of the dynamic features of reality. This amounts, on the one hand, to a purely spatial ontology supporting snapshot views of the world at successive instants of time and, on the other hand, to a purely spatiotemporal ontology of change and process. We argue that dynamic spatial ontology must combine these two distinct types of inventory of the entities and relationships in reality, and we provide characterizations of spatiotemporal reasoning in the light of (...) the interconnections between them. (shrink)
A theory of how concept formation begins is presented that accounts for conceptual activity in the first year of life, shows how increasing conceptual complexity comes about, and predicts the order in which new types of information accrue to the conceptual system. In a compromise between nativist and empiricist views, it offers a single domain-general mechanism that redescribes attended spatiotemporal information into an iconic form. The outputs of this mechanism consist of types of spatial information that we know infants (...) attend to in the first months of life. These primitives form the initial basis of concept formation, allow explicit preverbal thought, such as recall, inferences, and simple mental problem solving, and support early language learning. The theory details how spatial concepts become associated with bodily feelings of force and trying. It also explains why concepts of emotions, sensory concepts such as color, and theory of mind concepts are necessarily later acquisitions because they lack contact with spatial descriptions to interpret unstructured internal experiences. Finally, commonalities between the concepts of preverbal infants and nonhuman primates are discussed. (shrink)