Making Space: The Development of Spatial Representation and Reasoning

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Overview

Spatial competence is a central aspect of human adaptation. To understand human cognitive functioning, we must understand how people code the locations of things, how they navigate in the world, and how they represent and mentally manipulate spatial information. Until recently three approaches have dominated thinking about spatial development. Followers of Piaget claim that infants are born without knowledge of space or a conception of permanent objects that occupy space.

They develop such knowledge through experience and manipulation of their environment. Nativists suggest that the essential aspects of spatial understanding are innate and that biological maturation of specific brain areas can account for whatever aspects of spatial development are not accounted for at birth. The Vygotskan approach emphasizes the cultural transmission of spatial skills.

Nora Newcombe and Janellen Huttenlocher argue for an interactionist approach to spatial development that incorporates and integrates essential insights of the classic three approaches. They show how biological preparedness interacts with the spatial environment that infants encounter after birth to create spatial development and mature spatial competence. Topics covered include spatial coding during infancy and childhood; the early origins of coding distance in continuous space, of coding location with respect to distal external landmarks, and of hierarchical combination of information; the mental processes that operate on stored spatial information; spatial information as encoded in models and maps; and spatial information as encoded in language. In conclusion, the authors discuss their account of spatial development in relation to various approaches to cognitive development in other domains, including quantitative development, theory of mind, and language acquisition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...incredibly clearly written, [and] contains a scholarly and up-to-date discussion of the existing literature." Alyson Davis Perception
Perception - Alyson Davis
... incredibly clearly written, [and] contains a scholarly and up-to-date discussion of the existing literature.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Nora S. Newcombe is Professor of Psychology at Temple University.

Janellen Huttenlocher is William S. Gray Professor of Psychology at the University ofChicago.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword ix
Acknowledgments xi
Chapter 1 Introduction 1
Chapter 2 Thinking about Space 13
Chapter 3 Two Hypotheses about Infant Location Coding 39
Chapter 4 Three Other Important Questions about the Development of Location Coding (and an Epilogue on Automaticity) 73
Chapter 5 Development of Spatial Thought 109
Chapter 6 Models and Maps 145
Chapter 7 Space and Language 179
Chapter 8 Thinking about Development 207
References 227
Index 253
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2000

    Author Review

    Traditionally, scientific psychologists have written articles, not books. Recently, this situation has changed. I believe the appearance of books on scientific psychology reflects the maturing of our field--the emergence of a body of knowledge with the coherence and depth to provide the makings of a book. I am excited by the change, and really proud to be a part of it. I hope readers will share some of my fascination with how children come to be able to function in the spatial world.

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