Posts Tagged ‘spatial cognition’

Map memories

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

In their 1999 study, Richardson et al. compared how subjects learn to navigate their environments from maps, navigation, and virtual copies of the environments. They found that people tend to learn more effectively from maps than from virtual environments. The paper itself is thorough and describes in detail the authors’ procedure and findings. I happen to think the final discoveries, however, are not terribly surprising.

I have always thought that some people (such as myself) are naturally “map people” while others are more “trial and error” or experiential learners. While map readers are, according to Richardson et al., heavily dependent on consistent orientation, they are more aware of the greater surroundings and the bigger picture. Being aware of causality, such as “if I turn left, then I will see the elevator at the end of the hall,” enables one to form mental maps and think ahead in the navigation process. Experiential learners, on the other hand, will most likely navigate by landmark in a step-by-step process that is more shortsighted. Additionally, in terms of longer-term memory, I would not be surprised if map readers could, in a sense, recite a navigation process from memory more easily than could an experiential learner. These are just my conjectures, but if Richardson et al. had accurate conclusions, then it is fairly clear that map readers are already at an advantage.

– JMonterey

Technology: Changing Spatial Cognition

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Tversky et al.’s article, “Three Spaces of Spatial Cognition” places human cognition of space in an easy to understand framework of 3 understandings; the space of navigation, the space around the body and the space of the body. In GIScience, it is important to understand how human perceive the world we live in, as it determines how we create the GISystems and how they are used to display and modify geographical data.

The article seems to represent the idea of spatial cognition well from the point of view of psychology, but lacks in how new adaptive systems and digital mediums are modifying the ideas within spatial cognition and how humans see the world. For example in my research, the use of an iPad with 3D maps and real time tracking. The use of this technology has caused me to now perceive the world in a vertical and dynamic manner. To elaborate, before I would look at the world and place objects or places in relation to myself (like in the article), but now I place them in relation to other objects and view them as being at dynamic locations, moving as I move. I like to think of it in the context of a video game where game play maps were once set in a player centric way. However, because technology has changed, the game maps have evolved into 3 dimensional dynamic maps with distances and locations that change with the movement of the player, the other characters, and changes in the game play environment itself (no longer N-S-E-W maps).

I feel that the article would have benefited from more computer scientist and geographer input into how GI programs and geographical education can help, hinder or change the perception and way we see our space and place. Furthermore, the addition of AI research ideas into how robots navigate (maps, gps, image navigation, range finders, etc.) would have provided a better understanding of spatial cognition in the digital world of today and not just a psychology interpretation.


Underground spatial orientation

Friday, February 17th, 2012

When reading the article, I contemplated the similarities and differences among the three spaces of spatial cognition discussed by Tversky et al. (1999). Last week’s geovisualization lecture, particularly Harry Beck’s 1933 London underground subway map came to mind; how one’s navigation alters once you head down the stairs to the sub-terrestrial world. It is perplexing to ponder that our spatial cognitive spaces are synched and utilized to shift from one environment to another. It feels as though space ceases to exist once I enter a tunnel. Yet, due to signs and landmarks, the destination is eventually reached. In this case, the idea of North is discarded. We solely rely on signs already made, or past experience.

In contrast to Harry Beck, David Shrigley’s London’s underground subway map is an interesting representation of our mind space once we enter the subway system. It is an homage to Beck’s standard map, signifying transcending from confusion to clarity. The space of navigation, the space surrounding the body, and the space of the body in an underground subway setting appear to be more restricted than other environments. This space restriction is produced by existing infrastructure, which limits one’s freedom of exploration. Although I will note that a similar argument could be made with sidewalks. The difference between the subway scenario and the sidewalk scenario, however, is that we are visually restricted. Vancouver’s mountains are not visibly constrained and cannot act as a compass, leading us North.

-henry miller

Spatial Cognition and Semantics

Friday, February 17th, 2012

To understand geography and turn geographical observations into knowledge and meaning we need to grasp how we (and our body) form spatial relationships with the Earth. This is where spatial cognition can help us. I thought the 3 types of spaces the authors described in the article are very interest and relevant to semantics and ontology building. I am especially intrigued with the fact that our body is our first compass. This makes sense because our body is what gives us physical form and thus allows us to interact spatially with other physical entities, which in turn, is why we care about geography at all. If the way we understand our surroundings begins with our bodies, then the experiences our body has with physical entities must play a part in how we talk about it. For instance, maybe the reason why different cultures use different propositions to describe the same action (e.g. “across the lake” as “go over the lake” or “pass through the lake”) stems from the different experiences which subjects the body into different positioning with respect to the lake. We use different words because the way we understand the world is different depending on type of space we are using. Or in other words, “in each case, schematization reflects the typical kinds of interactions that human beings have with their surroundings” (522).

– Ally_Nash

What do we Do with what we Know? Using Spatial Cognition

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

The “Three Spaces of Spatial Cognition” article on three types of spaces was perhaps an interesting introduction to this way of thinking, but I felt it was lacking in its ability to situate this knowledge within the larger domain of geography.  It seemed evident that there was some agreement on how people perceive themselves with relation to space, and how they perceive space itself, but I would have liked a more in depth discussion of what we have been doing with that knowledge, or how it could be applied.  Perhaps a comprehensive overview would be too much for this one paper, but it would have been useful with regards to conceptualizing how this knowledge is used and useful.

I think there are a few possibilities that would have been pertinent to mention.  For example, maps as we traditionally know them are generally situated in a northward manner, and have common landmarks: roads, rivers, large place names, important topography, and so on.  Is this format useful for humans when thinking of the way we conceptualize space?  If we all orient ourselves based on various prior exposures and development, is it possible for a singular map to suit the needs of many?  Stemming from this would be an interesting question about the future of geovisualization and more dynamic “maps”, such as in-car navigation systems.  How might these be adapted to best suit the needs of the user?  In-car navigation systems often tilt the map based on the direction the car is going, so the next move can be conceptualized with regards to where the driver is facing–is this effective?  Does it make decisions happen faster?

These are the kinds of questions I would have like to have been addressed, or at least mentioned in this introduction, to communicate the importance of understanding WHY this knowledge of ourselves in space is “essential to our very survival”.


Sptatial cognition and geovisualization

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The topic of spatial cognition (and closely related, naïve geography) was relevant to the issues discussed by both Elwood as well as MacEachren & Kraak. The ways humans learn geographic concepts and reason about space is required for geovisualization to “handle qualitative forms of spatial knowledge” (Elwood, 259) and for building “human-centered approach to geovisualization” (MacEachren & Kraak). I believe developments in this field are urgently needed and have far-reaching implications not only for geovisualization but also for building ontologies. In fact, Smith and Mark also touch on the lack of research by stating “We know of no data on the ages at which young children acquire or master the basic concepts of naïve geography and the associated kinds of objects…” (10).

With a growing amount of geo-located SMS, pictures and videos, how can we process these qualitative information without grasping how it is that the contributors comprehend their surroundings? Since users are also contributors in the Web 2.0 environment, it is evitable that we must dedicate resources to understand these users. For instance, how do people learn and remember directions? How do people from different cultures use landmarks, whether natural or man-made? Only by understanding how people build their relationship with geographic space can we take more initiative in the geovisualizing process and derive meaning out of spatial descriptions (near, far..). As a side note, I imagine it would also be important to first identify what the source data was initially intended for because the context could influence how spatial forms are perceived and described. For example an emergency text message and a text message trying to rent out an apartment could be very different — the first message is influenced by panic and thus, the users might have a distorted conception of distances whereas the second message is motivated by the intention to sale and thus everything might be described as “near” the apartment.