Navigating by Mind and by Body

  • Barbara Tversky
Conference paper

DOI: 10.1007/3-540-45004-1_1

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2685)
Cite this paper as:
Tversky B. (2003) Navigating by Mind and by Body. In: Freksa C., Brauer W., Habel C., Wender K.F. (eds) Spatial Cognition III. Spatial Cognition 2002. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence), vol 2685. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg


Within psychology, at least two research communities study spatial cognition. One community studies systematic errors in spatial memory and judgement, accounting for them as a consequence of and clue to normal perceptual and cognitive processing. The other community studies navigation in real space, isolating the contributions of various sensory cues and sensorimotor systems to successful navigation. The former group emphasizes error, the latter, selective mechanisms, environmental or evolutionary, that produce fine-tuned correct responses.

How can these approaches be reconciled and integrated? First, by showing why errors are impervious to selective pressures. The schematization that leads to errors is a natural consequence of normal perceptual and cognitive processes; it is inherent to the construction of mental spaces and to using them to make judgments in limited capacity working memory. Selection can act on particular instances of errors, yet it is not clear that selection can act on the general mechanisms that produce them. Next, in the wild, there are a variety of correctives. Finally, closer examination of navigation in the wild shows systematic errors, for example, over-shooting in dead reckoning across species. Here, too, environments may provide correctives, specifically, landmarks. General cognitive mechanisms generate general solutions. The errors inevitably produced may be reduced by local specific sensori-motor couplings as well as local environmental cues. Navigation, and other behaviors as well, are a consequence of both.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Tversky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyStanford UniversityStanford

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