Three Spaces of Spatial Cognition

Tversky and Morrison describe how we keep track of 3 different spaces – navigation, the space immediately around the body and the space of body. Linking these three spaces together, they are used concurrently as we interact with the world around us. The authors describe how each space is conceptualized differently in our minds from reference frames, categorically to salient features.

GISystem can easily map based on a hierarchy that is useful for the space of navigation, but less common (in my own exposure at least) is to use a GISystem to map a users immediate surroundings around the body and the space of bodies. Perhaps this is an opportunity to use the 3D modeler or a new geovisualization technique to represent the 3 axes of the body in which we associate objects to it. We usually deal with spatial phenomenon on such a large scale (relative to the body), that I’m curious if the same techniques of data model or data structures currently existing can be applied on a micro scale. Also, given the qualitative nature of spatial cognition data that doesn’t lend itself to columns and rows being able to integrate these unique datasets will a challenge in itself.

In Goodchild’s article, Geographical information science: fifteen years later he notes that GIScience “take two essentially distinct forms: research about GIS that would lead eventually to improvements in the technology, and research with GIS that would exploit the technology in the advancement of science” (2006, pp. 200). Then, spatial cognition may be applicable to both forms. Through developing new ways to display data on multiple scales and dimensions as well as representing spatial data that may not be easily categorized will no doubt contribute to the technology’s improvement. Furthermore, the disciple of cognitive science can exploit the technology of GISystems to further advance their theories and apply new visualization techniques previously unavailable.


Goodchild, Michael F. “Geographical information science: fifteen years later.” Classics from IJGIS: twenty years of the International Journal of Geographical Information Science and Systems 2 (2006): 107-133.

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