Spatial Concepts: Sensitivity to Changes in Geometric Properties in Environmental and Figural Perception

  • Toru Ishikawa
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8684)


This study examined spatial concepts in environment perception, by looking at people’s reaction to changes in shape, scale, orientation, and topology while navigating in a virtual environment, as contrasted to the case of figural perception. Although people attended to changes in shape, they were most sensitive to a topological relation and discriminated it qualitatively from other transformations. In environment perception, compared to figural perception, the property of similarity did not have great cognitive prominence. Mental-rotation ability affected spatial perception, with high-spatial people discriminating between different transformations more clearly and low-spatial people attending more to topological relations.


Spatial thinking Spatial cognition Spatial ability Scale Environmental exploration Geometric transformations 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ekstrom, R.B., French, J.W., Harman, H.H., Dermen, D.: Kit of Factor-Referenced Cognitive Tests. Educational Testing Service, Princeton (1976)Google Scholar
  2. Gans, D.: Transformations and Geometries. Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York (1969)Google Scholar
  3. Gersmehl, P.J., Gersmehl, C.A.: Spatial thinking by young children: Neurologic evidence for early development and “educability”. Journal of Geography 106, 181–191 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Girden, E.R.: ANOVA: Repeated Measures (Sage University Paper Series on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, Series No. 07–084). Sage, Newbury Park, CA (1992)Google Scholar
  5. Golledge, R.G., Hubert, L.J.: Some comments on non-Euclidean mental maps. Environment and Planning A 14, 107–118 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Golledge, R.G., Marsh, M., Battersby, S.: A conceptual framework for facilitating geospatial thinking. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98, 285–308 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hegarty, M.: Components of spatial intelligence. Psychology of Learning and Motivation 52, 265–297 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hegarty, M., Montello, D.R., Richardson, A.E., Ishikawa, T., Lovelace, K.: Spatial abilities at different scales: Individual differences in aptitude-test performance and spatial-layout learning. Intelligence 34, 151–176 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hegarty, M., Richardson, A.E., Montello, D.R., Lovelace, K., Subbiah, I.: Development of a self-report measure of environmental spatial ability. Intelligence 30, 425–447 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ishikawa, T.: Geospatial thinking and spatial ability: An empirical examination of knowledge and reasoning in geographical science. The Professional Geographer 65, 636–646 (2013a)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ishikawa, T.: Spatial primitives from a cognitive perspective: Sensitivity to changes in various geometric properties. In: Tenbrink, T., Stell, J., Galton, A., Wood, Z. (eds.) COSIT 2013. LNCS, vol. 8116, pp. 1–13. Springer, Heidelberg (2013b)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ishikawa, T., Montello, D.R.: Spatial knowledge acquisition from direct experience in the environment: Individual differences in the development of metric knowledge and the integration of separately learned places. Cognitive Psychology 52, 93–129 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ittelson, W.H.: Environment perception and contemporary perceptual theory. In: Ittelson, W.H. (ed.) Environment and Cognition, pp. 1–19. Seminar Press, New York (1973)Google Scholar
  14. Janelle, D.G., Goodchild, M.F.: Location across disciplines: Reflection on the CSISS experience. In: Scholten, H.J., Velde, R., van Manen, N. (eds.) Geospatial Technology and the Role of Location in Science, pp. 15–29. Springer, Dordrecht (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Keehner, M.M., Tendick, F., Meng, M.V., Anwar, H.P., Hegarty, M., Stoller, M.L., Duh, Q.: Spatial ability, experience, and skill in laparoscopic surgery. American Journal of Surgery 188, 71–75 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kidder, F.R.: Elementary and middle school children’s comprehension of Euclidean transformations. Journal of Research in Mathematics Education 7, 40–52 (1976)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Klippel, A.: Spatial information theory meets spatial thinking: Is topology the Rosetta Stone of spatial cognition? Annals of the Association of American Geographers 102, 1310–1328 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kozhevnikov, M., Motes, M., Hegarty, M.: Spatial visualization in physics problem solving. Cognitive Science 31, 549–579 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kozlowski, L.T., Bryant, K.J.: Sense-of-direction, spatial orientation, and cognitive maps. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 3, 590–598 (1977)Google Scholar
  20. Kruskal, J.B.: Multidimensional scaling by optimizing goodness of fit to a nonmetric hypothesis. Psychometrika 29, 1–27 (1964)CrossRefMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  21. Kuhn, W.: Core concepts of spatial information for transdisciplinary research. International Journal of Geographical Information Science 26, 2267–2276 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee, J., Bednarz, R.: Components of spatial thinking: Evidence from a spatial thinking ability test. Journal of Geography 111, 15–26 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Levinson, S.C.: Frames of reference and Molyneux’s question: Cross-linguistic evidence. In: Bloom, P., Peterson, M., Nadel, L., Garrett, M. (eds.) Language and Space, pp. 109–169. MIT Press, Cambridge (1996)Google Scholar
  24. Liben, L.S., Downs, R.M.: Understanding person-space-map relations: Cartographic and developmental perspectives. Developmental Psychology 29, 739–752 (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mandler, J.M.: Representation. In: Mussen, P.H. (ed.) Handbook of Child Psychology, 4th edn., pp. 420–494. Wiley, New York (1983)Google Scholar
  26. Mandler, J.M.: On the spatial foundations of the conceptual system and its enrichment. Cognitive Science 36, 421–451 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Martin, J.L.: A test with selected topological properties of Piaget’s hypothesis concerning the spatial representation of the young child. Journal of Research in Mathematics Education 7, 26–38 (1976)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Montello, D.R.: Scale and multiple psychologies of space. In: Campari, I., Frank, A.U. (eds.) COSIT 1993. LNCS, vol. 716, pp. 312–321. Springer, Heidelberg (1993)Google Scholar
  29. National Research Council: Learning to Think Spatially. National Academies Press, Washington, DC (2006)Google Scholar
  30. Newcombe, N.S.: Increasing math and science learning by improving spatial thinking. American Educator 34(2), 29–43 (2010)Google Scholar
  31. Piaget, J., Inhelder, B.: The Child’s Conception of Space (trans. Langdon, F.J., Lunzer, J.L.). Norton, New York (1967) (original work published 1948)Google Scholar
  32. Thorndyke, P.W., Hayes-Roth, B.: Differences in spatial knowledge acquired from maps and navigation. Cognitive Psychology 14, 560–589 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tobler, W.: Bidimensional regression. Geographical Analysis 26, 187–212 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Uttal, D.H., Cohen, C.A.: Spatial thinking and STEM education: When, why, and how? Psychology of Learning and Motivation 57, 147–181 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toru Ishikawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies and Center for Spatial Information ScienceUniversity of TokyoBunkyo-ku, TokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations