Multiple Systems for Spatial Imagery: Transformations of Objects and Bodies

Jeffrey M. Zacks, Barbara Tversky
2005 Spatial Cognition and Computation  
Problem-solving often requires imagining spatial changes. Object-based transformations allow imagining an object in a different orientation. Perspective transformations allow imagining changes in one's viewpoint. Three experiments tested the hypothesis that these two transformations are dissociable and specialized for different situations, by manipulating instructions and task parameters and measuring response times, errors, and introspective reports. Human experience with small objects such as
more » ... all objects such as telephones and clothes irons consists mostly of manipulation or observed manipulation, which is characterized by object-based transformations. Consistent with this experience, when participants made judgments about small manipulable objects, they showed a strong tendency to use objectbased transformations. Experience with human bodies is more varied, including both object-like interactions and interactions in which one must estimate another's perspective. Accordingly, when making judgments about pictures of bodies, participants' selection of a spatial transformation depended on the type of judgment that needed to be made. When instructions violated these natural mappings, performance was impaired. These data argue for the view that multiple spatial transformation systems evolved to solve different spatial reasoning problems.
doi:10.1207/s15427633scc0504_1 fatcat:cuwz5tcsx5dzfkoljpodhhpnci