Cognitive Processing

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 107–119 | Cite as

Spatial term apprehension with a reference object’s rotation in three-dimensional space

Research Report


It has been reported that the overall shapes of spatial categorical patterns of projective spatial terms such as above and below are not influenced by the rotation of a reference object on a two-dimensional (2D) upright plane. However, is this also true in three-dimensional (3D) space? This study shows the dynamic aspects of the apprehension of projective spatial terms in 3D space by detailing how the rotation of a reference object with an inherent front influences the apprehension of projective spatial terms on a level plane by mapping their spatial categorical patterns. The experiment was designed to examine how spatial categorical patterns on a level plane changed with the rotation of a reference object with an inherent front in 3D computer graphics space. We manipulated the rotation of a reference object with an inherent front at three levels (0°, 90°, and 180° rotations) and examined how such manipulation changed the overall spatial categorical patterns of four basic Japanese projective spatial terms: mae, ushiro, hidari, and migi (similar to in front of, behind, to the left of, and to the right of in English, respectively). The results show that spatial term apprehension was affected by the rotation of the reference object in 3D space. In particular, rotation influenced the mae–ushiro and hidari–migi systems differently. The results also imply that our understanding of projective spatial terms on a level plane in 3D space is affected dynamically by visual information from 3D cues.


Spatial cognition Spatial term apprehension Rotation of a reference object Three-dimensional space 



This study was partially supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Creative Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture of Japan, 13NP0301, 2005. We thank all of the students who participated in the experiments and declare that the experiment comply with the current laws of the country in which it was performed.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive Psychology in Education, Graduate School of EducationKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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