Spatial Mental Representations

Barbara Tversky

Imagery as Internalized Perception. The classic work on imagery has emphasized the similarity of images to percepts and of operations on images to perceptual or physical operations. Elegant experiments have supported this view: smaller imagined features take more time to verify, larger imagined distances take more time to scan, and figures displaced by greater angles take longer to mentally rotate (see reviews by Finke and Shepard, 1986; Kosslyn, 1980). These demonstrations, however, have been done under special circumstances, such as instructing and training subjects to use imagery, and keeping pictures present. Do visual or spatial representations acquired and used under more natural circumstances have this character? Two classes of case, cognitive maps and spatial mental models, reveal other characteristics.

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