Language and the development of spatial reasoning

In Peter Carruthers (ed.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York. pp. 89--106 (2005)
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This chapter argues that human and animal minds indeed depend on a collection of domain-specific, task-specific, and encapsulated cognitive systems: on a set of cognitive ‘modules’ in Fodor's sense. It also argues that human and animal minds are endowed with domain-general, central systems that orchestrate the information delivered by core knowledge systems. The chapter begins by reviewing the literature on spatial reorientation in animals and in young children, arguing that spatial reorientation bears the hallmarks of core knowledge and of modularity. It then considers studies of older children and adults, arguing that human spatial representations change qualitatively over development and show capacities not found in any other species. Finally, it presents two new experiments that investigate the role of emerging spatial language in uniquely human navigation performance.



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