Thinking about space is thinking about spatial things. The table is on the carpet; hence the carpet is under the table. The vase is in the box; hence the box is not in the vase. But what does it mean for an object to be somewhere? How are objects tied to the space they occupy? This book is concerned with these and other fundamental issues in the philosophy of spatial representation. Our starting point is an analysis of the (...) interplay between mereology (the study of part/whole relations), topology (the study of spatial continuity and compactness), and the theory of spatial location proper. This leads to a unified framework for spatial representation understood quite broadly as a theory of the representation of spatial entities. The framework is then tested against some classical metaphysical questions such as: Are parts essential to their wholes? Is spatial colocation a sufficient criterion of identity? What (if anything) distinguishes material objects from events and other spatial entities? The concluding chapters deal with applications to topics as diverse as the logical analysis of movement and the semantics of maps. (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)
A critical survey of the fundamental philosophical issues in the logic and formal ontology of space, with special emphasis on the interplay between mereology (the theory of parthood relations), topology (broadly understood as a theory of qualitative spatial relations such as continuity and contiguity), and the theory of spatial location proper.
Neuropsychological findings used to motivate the "two visual systems" hypothesis have been taken to endanger a pair of widely accepted claims about spatial representation in conscious visual experience. The first is the claim that visual experience represents 3-D space around the perceiver using an egocentric frame of reference. The second is the claim that there is a constitutive link between the spatial contents of visual experience and the perceiver's bodily actions. In this paper, I review and assess three (...) main sources of evidence for the two visual systems hypothesis. I argue that the best interpretation of the evidence is in fact consistent with both claims. I conclude with some brief remarks on the relation between visual consciousness and rational agency. (shrink)
When do several objects compose a further object? The last twenty years have seen a great deal of discussion of this question. According to the most popular view on the market, there is a physical object composed of your brain and Jeremy Bentham’s body. According to the second-most popular view on the market, there are no such objects as human brains or human bodies, and there are also no atoms, rocks, tables, or stars. And according to the third-ranked view, there (...) are human bodies, but still no brains, atoms, rocks, tables, or stars. Although it’s pleasant to have so many crazy-sounding views around, I think it would also be nice to have a commonsense option available. The aim of this paper is to offer such an option. The approach I offer begins by considering a mereological question other than the standard one that has been the focus of most discussions in the literature. I try to show that the road to mereological sanity begins with giving the most straightforward and commonsensical answer to this other question, and then extending that answer to further questions about the mereology of physical objects. On the approach I am recommending, it turns out that all of the mereological properties and relations of physical objects are determined by their spatial properties and relations. (shrink)
Many philosophers have held that it is not possible to experience a spatial object, property, or relation except against the background of an intact awareness of a space that is somehow ‘absolute’. This paper challenges that claim, by analyzing in detail the case of a brain-damaged subject whose visual experiences seem to have violated this condition: spatial objects and properties were present in his visual experience, but space itself was not. I go on to suggest that phenomenological argumentation (...) can give us a kind of evidence about the nature of the mind even if this evidence is not absolutely incorrigible. (shrink)
An attempt is made to defend a general approach to the spatial content of perception, an approach according to which perception is imbued with spatial content in virtue of certain kinds of connections between perceiving organism's sensory input and its behavioral output. The most important aspect of the defense involves clearly distinguishing two kinds of perceptuo-behavioral skills—the formation of dispositions, and a capacity for emulation. The former, the formation of dispositions, is argued to by the central pivot of (...)spatial content. I provide a neural information processing interpretation of what these dispositions amount to, and describe how dispositions, so understood, are an obvious implementation of Gareth Evans' proposal on the topic. Furthermore, I describe what sorts of contribution are made by emulation mechanisms, and I also describe exactly how the emulation framework differs from similar but distinct notions with which it is often unhelpfully confused, such as sensorimotor contingencies and forward models. (shrink)
Intentionalism is the view that the phenomenal character of a conscious experience is wholly determined by, or even reducible to, its representational content. In this essay I put forward a version of intentionalism that allows (though does not require) the reduction of phenomenal character to representational content. Unlike other reductionist theories, however, it does not require the acceptance of phenomenal externalism (the view that phenomenal character does not supervene on the internal state of the subject). According the view offered here, (...) phenomenal characters essentially represent subject-environment relations that are relevant to the possibilities for causal interaction between the subject and the environment; relations of the kind that J. J. Gibson dubbed affordances. I argue for this view chiefly through an examination of spatial perception, though other cases are also considered. The view assumes that a phenomenal character has an essential functional role; though it need not be assumed that a functional role is sufficient for a phenomenal character. (shrink)
The Morris water maze has been put forward in the philosophy of neuroscience as an example of an experimental arrangement that may be used to delineate the cognitive faculty of spatial memory (e.g., Craver and Darden, Theory and method in the neurosciences, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 2001; Craver, Explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007). However, in the experimental and review literature on the water maze throughout the history of its (...) use, we encounter numerous responses to the question of “what” phenomenon it circumscribes ranging from cognitive functions (e.g., “spatial learning”, “spatial navigation”), to representational changes (e.g., “cognitive map formation”) to terms that appear to refer exclusively to observable changes in behavior (e.g., “water maze performance”). To date philosophical analyses of the water maze have not been directed at sorting out what phenomenon the device delineates nor the sources of the different answers to the question of what. I undertake both of these tasks in this paper. I begin with an analysis of Morris’s first published research study using the water maze and demonstrate that he emerged from it with an experimental learning paradigm that at best circumscribed a discrete set of observable changes in behavior. However, it delineated neither a discrete set of representational changes nor a discrete cognitive function. I cite this in combination with a reductionist-oriented research agenda in cellular and molecular neurobiology dating back to the 1980s as two sources of the lack of consistency across the history of the experimental and review literature as to what is under study in the water maze. (shrink)
In recent work, David Chalmers argues that “Edenic shapes”—roughly, the shape properties phenomenally presented in spatial experience—are not instantiated in our world. His reasons come largely from the theory of Special Relativity. Although Edenic shapes might have been instantiated in a classical Newtonian world, he maintains that they could not be instantiated in a relativistic world like our own. In this essay, I defend realism about Edenic shape, the thesis that Edenic shapes are instantiated in our world, against Chalmers’s (...) challenge from Special Relativity. I begin by clarifying the notion of an Edenic shape by reference to Chalmers’s notion of the “Edenic” content of perceptual experience. I then reconstruct Chalmers’s argument that Edenic shapes could not be instantiated in a relativistic world. His reasoning proceeds from two assumptions. The first is that the only shape properties instantiated in a relativistic world are those which somehow involve relations to frames of reference. This is thought to follow from the phenomenon of Lorentz contraction, a consequence of Special Relativity. The second assumption is that Edenic shapes do not involve relations to frames of reference. One reason to accept the second assumption is that it seems that Edenic shapes could be instantiated in a classical Newtonian world, where the notion of a frame-relative shape has no meaningful application. I then proceed to defend RES against Chalmers’s argument by arguing that Special Relativity, properly understood, provides no support for Chalmers’s first assumption. More generally, I argue, by way of a careful analysis of the geometric structure of Minkowski space–time and Galilean space–time Newtonian physics), that Edenic shapes are no less at home in a relativistic world than in a classical Newtonian world. (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)
Using a novel enumeration task, we examined the encoding of spatial information during subitizing. Observers were shown masked presentations of randomly-placed discs on a screen and were required to mark the perceived locations of these discs on a subsequent blank screen. This provided a measure of recall for object locations and an indirect measure of display numerosity. Observers were tested on three stimulus durations and eight numerosities. Enumeration performance was high for displays containing up to six discs—a higher subitizing (...) range than reported in previous studies. Error in the location data was measured as the distance between corresponding stimulus and response discs. Overall, location errors increased in magnitude with larger numerosities and shorter display durations. When errors were computed as disc distance from display centroid, results suggest a compressed representation by observers. Additionally, enumeration and localization accuracy increased with display regularity. (shrink)
Automatic imitation or “imitative compatibility” is thought to be mediated by the mirror neuron system and to be a laboratory model of the motor mimicry that occurs spontaneously in naturalistic social interaction. Imitative compatibility and spatial compatibility effects are known to depend on different stimulus dimensions—body movement topography and relative spatial position. However, it is not yet clear whether these two types of stimulus–response compatibility effect are mediated by the same or different cognitive processes. We present an interactive (...) activation model of imitative and spatial compatibility, based on a dual-route architecture, which substantiates the view they are mediated by processes of the same kind. The model, which is in many ways a standard application of the interactive activation approach, simulates all key results of a recent study by Catmur and Heyes (2011). Specifically, it captures the difference in the relative size of imitative and spatial compatibility effects; the lack of interaction when the imperative and irrelevant stimuli are presented simultaneously; the relative speed of responses in a quintile analysis when the imperative and irrelevant stimuli are presented simultaneously; and the different time courses of the compatibility effects when the imperative and irrelevant stimuli are presented asynchronously. (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)
Representationalists hold that the phenomenal character of a perceptual experience is identical with, or supervenes on, an aspect of its representational content. As such, representationalism could be disproved by a counter-example consisting of two experiences that have the same representational content but differ in phenomenal character. In this paper, I discuss two recently proposed counter-examples to representationalism that involve ambiguous or reversible figures. I pursue two goals. My first, and most important, goal is to show that the representationalist can offer (...) plausible responses to both counter-examples. My second goal is to show the implications of these responses for the nature of the spatial representational contents of perceptual experiences. (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.
Many scientific discoveries have depended on external diagrams or visualizations. Many scientists also report to use an internal mental representation or mental imagery to help them solve problems and reason. How do scientists connect these internal and external representations? We examined working scientists as they worked on external scientific visualizations. We coded the number and type of spatial transformations (mental operations that scientists used on internal or external representations or images) and found that there were a very large number (...) of comparisons, either between different visualizations or between a visualization and the scientists’ internal mental representation. We found that when scientists compared visualization to visualization, the comparisons were based primarily on features. However, when scientists compared a visualization to their mental representation, they were attempting to align the two representations. We suggest that this alignment process is how scientists connect internal and external representations. (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)
Covert spatial attention alters the way things look. There is strong empirical evidence showing that objects situated at attended locations are described as appearing bigger, closer, if striped, stripier than qualitatively indiscernible counterparts whose locations are unattended. These results cannot be easily explained in terms of which properties of objects are perceived. Nor do they appear to be cases of visual illusions. Ned Block has argued that these results are best accounted for by invoking what he calls ‘mental paint’. (...) In this paper I argue, instead, in favour of an account of these phenomena in terms of the perceptual experience of affordances concerning saccadic eye movement. As part of the argument I draw connections with the empirical literature on the way in which performance efficiency also alters visual appearance. (shrink)
Neuropsychological studies suggest the existence of lateralized networks that represent categorical and coordinate types of spatial information. In addition, studies with neural networks have shown that they encode more effectively categorical spatial judgments or coordinate spatial judgments, if their input is based, respectively, on units with relatively small, nonoverlapping receptive fields, as opposed to units with relatively large, overlapping receptive fields. These findings leave open the question of whether interactive processes between spatial detectors and types of (...)spatial relations can be modulated by spatial attention. We hypothesized that spreading the attention window to encompass an area that includes two objects promotes coordinate spatial relations, based on coarse coding by large, overlapping, receptive fields. In contrast, narrowing attention to encompass an area that includes only one of the objects benefits categorical spatial relations, by effectively parsing space. By use of a cueing procedure, the spatial attention window was manipulated to select regions of differing areas. As predicted, when the attention window was large, coordinate spatial transformations were noticed faster than categorical transformations; in contrast, when the attention window was relatively smaller, categorical spatial transformations were noticed faster than coordinate transformations. Another novel finding was that coordinate changes were noticed faster when cueing an area that included both objects as well as the empty space between them than when simultaneously cueing both areas including the objects while leaving the gap between them uncued. (shrink)
This article presents research into human mental spatial reasoning with orientation knowledge. In particular, we look at reasoning problems about cardinal directions that possess multiple valid solutions , at human preferences for some of these solutions, and at representational and procedural factors that lead to such preferences. The article presents, first, a discussion of existing, related conceptual and computational approaches; second, results of empirical research into the solution preferences that human reasoners actually have; and, third, a novel computational model (...) that relies on a parsimonious and flexible spatio-analogical knowledge representation structure to robustly reproduce the behavior observed with human reasoners. (shrink)
Typical spatial descriptions, such as “The car is in front of the house,” describe the position of a located object (LO; e.g., the car) in space relative to a reference object (RO) whose location is known (e.g., the house). The orientation of the RO affects spatial language comprehension via the reference frame selection process. However, the effects of the LO's orientation on spatial language have not received great attention. This study explores whether the pure geometric information of (...) the LO (e.g., its orientation) affects spatial language comprehension using placing and production tasks. Our results suggest that the orientation of the LO influences spatial language comprehension even in the absence of functional relationships. (shrink)
Languages vary in their semantic partitioning of the world. This has led to speculation that language might shape basic cognitive processes. Spatial cognition has been an area of research in which linguistic relativity – the effect of language on thought – has both been proposed and rejected. Prior studies have been inconclusive, lacking experimental rigor or appropriate research design. Lacking detailed ethnographic knowledge as well as failing to pay attention to intralanguage variations, these studies often fall short of defining (...) an appropriate concept of language, culture, and cognition. Our study constitutes the first research exploring (1) individuals speaking different languages yet living (for generations) in the same immediate environment and (2) systematic intralanguage variation. Results show that language does not shape spatial cognition and plays at best the secondary role of foregrounding alternative possibilities for encoding spatial arrangements. (shrink)
This introduction places the forum contributions in the wider context of the “spatial turn” within the humanities and social sciences. Following a survey of the historical trajectories of the field, a review of impulses from different disciplines, and a sketch of general developments over the last few decades, the editors exemplify key approaches, methods, and conceptual advances with reference to gender studies. The focus then turns to the structure, main themes, and specific contents of this collection, which features both (...) case studies and theoretical reflections. In conclusion, the essay underlines the significance and further potential of the “spatial turn.”. (shrink)
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 article presents an approach to understanding human spatial competence that focuses on the representations and processes of spatial cognition 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 spatial cognition, 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)
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)
This paper focuses on the Korean suffix -te, which has been variously analyzed as a marker of tense, aspect, tense–aspect, mood, mood–tense, or evidentiality. I argue against all of these approaches and propose instead that -te is a spatial deictic past tense, which triggers an evidential environment. It refers to a certain past time when the speaker either observed an event or some evidence of the event within his (her) perceptual field. Thus, the denotation of -te is ‘overlap’, not (...) between the speaker's perceptual field and the event itself, but between the speaker's perceptual field and the evidence of the event at the past reference time. To account for this denotation, propose an ‘evidence trace’ function as well as a ‘speaker's perceptual trace’ function (cf. M. Faller, J Semantics 21:45–85, 2004). My analysis shows that suffixes like -ess (which is traditionally analyzed as a perfect) play two roles, as an indirect evidential and a perfect, depending on whether they appear with the spatial deictic tense -te or with a simple deictic tense. I argue that in Korean two distinct tense systems—the regular tense–aspect system and the spatial deictic tense–evidential system—exist in parallel. Thus the proposed analysis allows evidentials to be subsumed under the formal theory of tense, aspect, and mood. (shrink)
This paper examines Helmholtz's attempt to use empirical psychology to refute certain of Kant's epistemological positions. Particularly, Helmholtz believed that his work in the psychology of visual perception showed Kant's doctrine of the a priori character of spatial intuition to be in error. Some of Helmholtz's arguments are effective, but this effectiveness derives from his arguments to show the possibility of obtaining evidence that the structure of physical space is non-Euclidean, and these arguments do not depend on his theory (...) of vision. Helmholtz's general attempt to provide an empirical account of the "inferences" of perception is regarded as a failure. (shrink)
I highlight a neglected but striking phenomenological fact about our experiences: they have a pervasively spatial character. Specifically, all (or almost all) phenomenal qualities – roughly, the introspectible, philosophically puzzling properties that constitute ‘what it’s like’ to have an experience – introspectively seem instantiated in some kind of space. So, assuming a very weak charity principle about introspection, some phenomenal qualities are instantiated in space. But there is only one kind of space – the ordinary space occupied by familiar (...) objects. And the only objects appropriately located in ordinary space are outside the subject’s mind. This entails experiential externalism, the view that at least one phenomenal quality is instantiated outside the subject’s mind. Experiential externalism is incompatible with many leading theories of experience, including certain mental paint theories; some forms of representationalism; paradigmatic versions of sense-datum theory; and views on which no phenomenal qualities are instantiated. My argument is structurally similar to familiar arguments based on the ‘transparency of experience.’ However, I suggest, phenomenological intuitions about spatiality are considerably more stable than phenomenological intuitions about transparency. For many philosophers, transparency intuitions fade markedly with respect to non-standard experiences, including experiences associated with blurry or double vision. But spatiality intuitions remain robust even for these experiences. Thus, spatiality intuitions should be more dialectically effective than transparency intuitions for supporting experiential externalism. (shrink)
I consider the way in which spatial perception is necessary for object seeing. In section 1 I outline the operative conception of object seeing. I consider Cassam’s view that in order to see o, you must see it as spatially located (section 2). I argue that Cassam’s argument is unsound. Cassam’s argument relies on the claim that seeing o requires visual differentiation. But it is not the case that seeing o requires visual differentiation. This is because the following principle (...) is true: if S sees a visible proper part of o, then S sees o, and since there are cases in which S sees a visible proper part of o yet o is not visually differentiated for S , seeing o doesn’t require visual dierentiation (section 3). In section 4 I suggest an alternative way of understanding the idea that spatial perception is necessary for object seeing. (shrink)
Previous research has linked the concept of number and other ordinal series to space via a spatially oriented mental number line. In addition, it has been shown that in visual scene recognition and production, speakers of a language with a left-to-right orthography respond faster to and tend to draw images in which the agent of an action is located to the left of the patient. In this study, we aim to bridge these two lines of research by employing a novel (...) method that measures the spatial bias produced by transitive sentences that use a wide variety of abstract and concrete verbs. Across four experiments, participants read sentences and then responded to probe words appearing on either the left or right sides of the screen. Probe words consisted of agents, patients, other words in the sentence, or newly encountered words. We found consistent lateral biases to responding to agents and patients, which appears to be independent of order of mention in the sentence but which does reflect a correspondence between position in the sentence and role in the causal sequence of the action. Our results also show that this spatial bias is driven by the use of the hands in two different ways: The left hand shows a greater sensitivity to the spatial effect than the right hand, and vocal responses produce no spatial effect. (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 Spatial Cognition, research crossing a variety of disciplines and methodologies is described, all focused on developing models to represent the capacities and limitations of human spatial cognition.
This paper discusses spatial cognition 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.
We try to find a possible origin of the holographic principle in the Lorentz-covariant Yang’s quantized space-time algebra (YSTA). YSTA, which is intrinsically equipped with short- and long-scale parameters, λ and R, gives a finite number of spatial degrees of freedom for any bounded spatial region, providing a basis for divergence-free quantum field theory. Furthermore, it gives a definite kinematical reduction of spatial degrees of freedom, compared with the ordinary lattice space. On account of the latter fact, (...) we find a certain kind of kinematical holographic relation in YSTA, which may be regarded as a primordial form of the holographic principle suggested so far in the framework of the present quantum theory that appears now in the contraction limit of YSTA, λ→0 and R→∞. (shrink)
This contribution presents a corpus of spatial descriptions and describes the development of a human-driven spatial language robot system for their comprehension. The domain of application is an eldercare setting in which an assistive robot is asked to “fetch” an object for an elderly resident based on a natural language spatial description given by the resident. In Part One, we describe a corpus of naturally occurring descriptions elicited from a group of older adults within a virtual 3D (...) home that simulates the eldercare setting. We contrast descriptions elicited when participants offered descriptions to a human versus robot avatar, and under instructions to tell the addressee how to find the target versus where the target is. We summarize the key features of the spatial descriptions, including their dynamic versus static nature and the perspective adopted by the speaker. In Part Two, we discuss critical cognitive and perceptual processing capabilities necessary for the robot to establish a common ground with the human user and perform the “fetch” task. Based on the collected corpus, we focus here on resolving the perspective ambiguity and recognizing furniture items used as landmarks in the descriptions. Taken together, the work presented here offers the key building blocks of a robust system that takes as input natural spatial language descriptions and produces commands that drive the robot to successfully fetch objects within our eldercare scenario. (shrink)
The concept of an objective spatial direction in special relativity is investigated and theories assuming light-speed isotropy while accepting the existence of a privileged spatial direction are classified, including so-called very special relativity. A natural generalization of the proper time principle is introduced which makes it possible to devise non-optical experimental tests of spatial isotropy. Several common misunderstandings in the relativistic literature concerning the role of spatial isotropy are clarified.
In this article, I revisit Landau and Jackendoff's () paper, “What and where in spatial language and spatial cognition,” proposing a friendly amendment and reformulation. The original paper emphasized the distinct geometries that are engaged when objects are represented as members of object kinds, versus when they are represented as figure and ground in spatial expressions. We provided empirical and theoretical arguments for the link between these distinct representations in spatial language and their accompanying nonlinguistic neural (...) representations, emphasizing the “what” and “where” systems of the visual system. In the present paper, I propose a second division of labor between two classes of spatial prepositions in English that appear to be quite distinct. One class includes prepositions such as in and on, whose core meanings engage force-dynamic, functional relationships between objects, with geometry only a marginal player. The second class includes prepositions such as above/below and right/left, whose core meanings engage geometry, with force-dynamic relationships a passing or irrelevant variable. The insight that objects’ force-dynamic relationships matter to spatial terms’ uses is not new; but thinking of these terms as a distinct set within spatial language has theoretical and empirical consequences that are new. I propose three such consequences, rooted in the fact that geometric knowledge is highly constrained and early-emerging in life, while force-dynamic knowledge of objects and their interactions is relatively unconstrained and needs to be learned piecemeal over a lengthy timeline. First, the two classes will engage different learning problems, with different developmental trajectories for both first and second language learners; second, the classes will naturally lead to different degrees of cross-linguistic variation; and third, they may be rooted in different neural representations. (shrink)
Containment and support have traditionally been assumed to represent universal conceptual foundations for spatial terms. This assumption can be challenged, however: English in and on are applied across a surprisingly broad range of exemplars, and comparable terms in other languages show significant variation in their application. We propose that the broad domains of both containment and support have internal structure that reflects different subtypes, that this structure is reflected in basic spatial term usage across languages, and that it (...) constrains children's spatial term learning. Using a newly developed battery, we asked how adults and 4-year-old children speaking English or Greek distribute basic spatial terms across subtypes of containment and support. We found that containment showed similar distributions of basic terms across subtypes among all groups while support showed such similarity only among adults, with striking differences between children learning English versus Greek. We conclude that the two domains differ considerably in the learning problems they present, and that learning in and on is remarkably complex. Together, our results point to the need for a more nuanced view of spatial term learning. (shrink)
Previous studies have shown that multiple reference frames are available and compete for selection during the use of spatial terms such as “above.” However, the mechanisms that underlie the selection process are poorly understood. In the current paper we present two experiments and a comparison of three computational models of selection to shed further light on the nature of reference frame selection. The three models are drawn from different areas of human cognition, and we assess whether they may be (...) applied to a reference frame selection by examining their ability to account for both existing and new empirical data comprising acceptance rates, response times, and response time distributions. These three models are the competitive shunting model, the leaky competing accumulator model, and a lexical selection model. Model simulations show that only the LCA model satisfactorily accounts for the empirical observations. The key properties of this model that seem to drive its success are its bounded linear activation function, its number and type of processing stages, and its use of decay. Uncovering these critical properties has important implications for our understanding not only of spatial term use, in particular, but also of conflict and selection in human cognition more generally. (shrink)
Learning a novel environment involves integrating first-person perceptual and motoric experiences with developing knowledge about the overall structure of the surroundings. The present experiments provide insights into the parallel development of these egocentric and allocentric memories by intentionally conflicting body- and world-centered frames of reference during learning, and measuring outcomes via online and offline measures. Results of two experiments demonstrate faster learning and increased memory flexibility following route perspective reading (Experiment 1) and virtual navigation (Experiment 2) when participants begin exploring (...) the environment on a northward (vs. any other direction) allocentric heading. We suggest that learning advantages due to aligning body-centered (left/right/forward/back) with world-centered (NSEW) reference frames are indicative of three features of spatial memory development and representation. First, memories for egocentric and allocentric information develop in parallel during novel environment learning. Second, cognitive maps have a preferred orientation relative to world-centered coordinates. Finally, this preferred orientation corresponds to traditional orientation of physical maps (i.e., north is upward), suggesting strong associations between daily perceptual and motor experiences and the manner in which we preferentially represent spatial knowledge. (shrink)
Husserl left many unpublished drafts explaining (or trying to) his views on spatial representation and geometry, such as, particularly, those collected in the second part of Studien zur Arithmetik und Geometrie (Hua XXI), but no completely articulate work on the subject. In this paper, I put forward an interpretation of what those views might have been. Husserl, I claim, distinguished among different conceptions of space, the space of perception (constituted from sensorial data by intentionally motivated psychic functions), that of (...) physical geometry (or idealized perceptual space), the space of the mathematical science of physical nature (in which science, not only raw perception has a word) and the abstract spaces of mathematics (free creations of the mathematical mind), each of them with its peculiar geometrical structure. Perceptual space is proto-Euclidean and the space of physical geometry Euclidean, but mathematical physics, Husserl allowed, may find it convenient to represent physical space with a non-Euclidean structure. Mathematical spaces, on their turn, can be endowed, he thinks, with any geometry mathematicians may find interesting. Many other related questions are addressed here, in particular those concerning the a priori or a posteriori character of the many geometric features of perceptual space (bearing in mind that there are at least two different notions of a priori in Husserl, which we may call the conceptual and the transcendental a priori). I conclude with an overview of Weyl’s ideas on the matter, since his philosophical conceptions are often traceable back to his former master, Husserl. (shrink)
A critical re-examination of the history of the concepts of space (including spacetime of general relativity and relativistic quantum field theory) reveals a basic ontological elusiveness of spatial extension, while, at the same time, highlighting the fact that its epistemic primacy seems to be unavoidably imposed on us (as stated by A.Einstein “giving up the extensional continuum … is like to breathe in airless space”). On the other hand, Planck’s discovery of the atomization of action leads to the fundamental (...) recognition of an ontology of non-spatial, abstract entities (Quine) for the quantum level of reality (QT), as distinguished from the necessarily spatio-temporal, experimental revelations (measurements). The elementary quantum act (measured by Planck’s constant) has neither duration nor extension, and any genuinely quantum process literally does not belong in the Raum and time of our experience. As Heisenberg stresses: “Während also die klassische Physik ein objectives Geschehen in Raum and Zeit zum Gegenstand hat, für dessen Existenz seine Beobachtung völlig irrelevant war, behandelt die Quantentheorie Vorgänge, die sozusagen nur in den Momenten der Beobachtung als raumzeitliche Phänomene aufleuchten, und über die in der zwischenzeit anschaulische physikalische Aussagen sinloss sind”. An admittedly speculative, hazardous conjecture is then advanced concerning the relation of such quantum ontology with the role of the pre-phenomenal continuum (Husserl) in the perception of macroscopically distinguishable objects in the Raum and time of our experience. Although rather venturesome, it brings together important philosophical issues. Coherently with recent general results in works on the foundations of QT, it is assumed that the linearity of quantum dynamical evolution does not apply to the central nervous system of living beings at a certain level of the evolutionary ramification and at the pre-conscious stage of subjectivity. Accordingly, corresponding to the onset of a non-linear dynamic evolution, a ‘primary spatial’ reduction is ‘continually’ taking place, thereby constituting the neural precondition for the experience of distinguishable macroscopic objects in the continuous spatial extension. While preventing the theoretically possible quantum superpositions of macroscopic objects from being perceivable by living beings, the ‘primary reduction’ has no effect on the standard processes concerning quantum level entities involved in laboratory man-made experiments. In this connection, an experimental check which might falsify the conjecture is briefly discussed. The approach suggested here, if sound, leads to a naturalization of that part of Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetics than can survive the Euclidean catastrophe. According to such naturalized transcendentalism, “space can well be transcendental without the axioms being so”, in agreement with a well-known statement by Boltzman. Finally, as far as QT is concerned, the conjecture entails that a scheme for quantum measurement of the von Neumann type cannot even ‘leave the ground’, vindicating Bohr’s viewpoint. A quantum theory of measurement, in a proper sense, turns out to be unnecessary and in fact impossible. (shrink)
Children's overextensions of spatial language are often taken to reveal spatial biases. However, it is unclear whether extension patterns should be attributed to children's overly general spatial concepts or to a narrower notion of conceptual similarity allowing metaphor-like extensions. We describe a previously unnoticed extension of spatial expressions and use a novel method to determine its origins. English- and Greek-speaking 4- and 5-year-olds used containment expressions (e.g., English into, Greek mesa) for events where an object moved (...) into another object but extended such expressions to events where the object moved behind or under another object. The pattern emerged in adult speakers of both languages and also in speakers of 10 additional languages. We conclude that learners do not have an overly general concept of Containment. Nevertheless, children (and adults) perceive similarities across Containment and other types of spatial scenes, even when these similarities are obscured by the conventional forms of the language. (shrink)
In his last great philosophical essay, 'Of Power', Reid makes the plausible claim that 'our first exertions are instinctive' and made 'without any distinct conception of the event that is to follow'. According to Reid, these instinctive exertions allow us to form beliefs about correlations between exertions and consequential events. Such instinctive exertions also explain the origin of our conception of power. In this paper, I argue that we can use the notion of instinctive exertions to address several objections that (...) have been raised concerning Reid's rejection of the claim that sensations possess spatial content. (shrink)
Language is a collaborative act: To communicate successfully, speakers must generate utterances that are not only semantically valid but also sensitive to the knowledge state of the listener. Such sensitivity could reflect the use of an “embedded listener model,” where speakers choose utterances on the basis of an internal model of the listener's conceptual and linguistic knowledge. In this study, we ask whether parents’ spatial descriptions incorporate an embedded listener model that reflects their children's understanding of spatial relations (...) and spatial terms. Adults described the positions of targets in spatial arrays to their children or to the adult experimenter. Arrays were designed so that targets could not be identified unless spatial relationships within the array were encoded and described. Parents of 3–4-year-old children encoded relationships in ways that were well-matched to their children's level of spatial language. These encodings differed from those of the same relationships in speech to the adult experimenter. In contrast, parents of individuals with severe spatial impairments did not show clear evidence of sensitivity to their children's level of spatial language. The results provide evidence for an embedded listener model in the domain of spatial language and indicate conditions under which the ability to model listener knowledge may be more challenging. (shrink)
Abstract I develop the idea that there exists a special dimension of depth, or of scale. The depth dimension is physically real and extends from the bottom micro-level to the ultimate macro-level of the Universe. The depth dimension, or the scales axis, complements the standard three spatial dimensions. I discuss the tentative qualities of the depth dimension and the universal arrangement of matter along this dimension. I suggest that all matter in the Universe, at least in the present cosmological (...) epoch, is in joint downward motion along the depth dimension. The joint downward motion manifests itself in the universal contraction of matter. The opposite direction of motion, upward the dimension, would cause the expansion of matter. The contraction of matter is a primary factor, whereas the shrinking of space in the vicinity of matter is a derivative phenomenon. The observed expansion of the Universe is explained by the fact that celestial bodies become smaller due to matter contraction, while the overall space remains predominantly intact. Thus, relative to the contracting material bodies, the total span of cosmic space appears to be becoming vaster. I attempt to explain how the contraction of matter engenders the effect of universal gravity. I use over thirty animated and graphical color visualizations in the text to make the explanation of the proposed ideas more lucid. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-39 DOI 10.1007/s10516-011-9178-4 Authors A. Alyushin, Department of Philosophy, The Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Street, 101000 Moscow, Russia Journal Axiomathes Online ISSN 1572-8390 Print ISSN 1122-1151. (shrink)
Cognitive science has recently moved toward action-integrated paradigms to account for some of its most remarkable findings. This novel approach has opened up new venues for the sport sciences. In particular, a large body of literature has investigated the relationship between complex motor practice and cognition, which in the sports domain has mostly concerned the effect of imagery and other forms of mental practice on motor skill acquisition and emotional control. Yet recent evidence indicates that this relationship is bidirectional: motor (...) experience also influences higher cognition, with a broad range of cognitive abilities being impacted in various ways. In this paper, I review the latest research exploring the effect of complex motor practice on spatial cognition. After emphasizing the versatility of processes that are recruited in the acquisition of complex motor skills, I present further experimental evidence to suggest that the process of acquiring new motor skills triggers specific adaptions in the brain, which in turn can be critical in numerous aspects of daily life. Finally, I propose a mechanistic explanation to account for motor-induced improvements, within an embodied framework of cognition. (shrink)
According to the Particularist Theory of Events, events are real things that have a spatiotemporal location. I argue that some events do not have a spatial location in the sense required by the theory. These events are ordinary, nonmental events like Smith’s investigating the murder and Carol’s putting her coat on the chair. I discuss the significance of these counterexamples for the theory.