A Model for Mental Mapping?

Tversky et al’s explanation of mental spaces as “built around frameworks consisting of elements and the relations among them,” (516) reminds me of an entity relationship model. The mental framework we have could consist of:

- Entities in line with Lynch’s city elements, and touched on in the Space of Navigation

  • Paths
  • Edges
  • Districts
  • Nodes
  • Landmarks

- Relationships to associate meaning between entities

  • Paths leading to landmarks
  • Edges surrounding districts

-  Attributes distinguishing the characteristics of an entity

  • Significance of a landmark
  • Width of a path (maybe depicting how frequently it is used for travel opposed to actual width)

I agree with other posts that this article needed a greater theoretical grounding within GIS. I struggle to see what cognitive maps can be used for, but with this simplified schema in mind, can we translate these cognitive maps into usable data in a GIS? Maybe, but I think we would have to be very meticulous to grasp the nuances in spatial perception and cognition, and therefore the relationships between entities.

Cognitive mapping methodology stresses the importance of debriefing after the maps are made. Discussions must be held in order to begin to establish reasoning regarding why what things are placed in certain locations, why things are deemed to have greater importance, etc. I don’t think that a simply digitized cognitive map will serve much purpose (as a pedagogical tool or otherwise) without knowing the meaning behind it. Each user will have different experiences leading them to perceive different things—things that I don’t think we can make much sense of without dealing with the nitty-gritty relationships of entities.

-sidewalk ballet

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