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The Spatial Foundations of Language and Cognition$
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Kelly S. Mix, Linda B. Smith, and Michael Gasser

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199553242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553242.001.0001

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Tethering to the World, Coming Undone

Tethering to the World, Coming Undone

Chapter:
(p.132) 7 Tethering to the World, Coming Undone
Source:
The Spatial Foundations of Language and Cognition
Author(s):

Barbara Landau

Kirsten O'hearn

James E. Hoffman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199553242.003.0007

This chapter examines the role of embodiment in the development of spatial cognition. Using evidence from normally developing children and individuals with Williams syndrome—a rare genetic deficit leading to severe spatial impairment—we argue that, although interactions between the body and world play an interesting role in the development and use of rich spatial representations of the world, these interactions by themselves cannot be a substitute for abstract representations. Indeed, we will argue that real advances in developing spatial cognitive functions require that people become untethered from the physical world—capable of thought that goes beyond our current connections with the world. This kind of thought requires spatial representations that are rich, robust, and amenable to mental manipulation.

Keywords:   visuospatial, index, deictic, block construction, spatial representation, Williams syndrome, developmental disorder

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