Icons and Images

Philip N. Johnson-Laird

in How We Reason

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551330
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191701580 | DOI:
Icons and Images

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This chapter explains how to make spatial inferences. It is suggested that human beings can construct internal representations of spatial layouts, and these representations are referred to as mental models of spatial layouts. A mental model is iconic, that is, its parts and the relations among them correspond to the parts of the layout and the relations among them. In contrast, the logical form of a sentence is not iconic, because its structure is remote from the structure of the situation it describes. A spatial model, however, is an icon of what it represents. In addition, three psychological experiments are discussed that support the claim that the brain could use an underlying three-dimensional mental model of an object to construct a two-dimensional image of its appearance from a particular point of view. The chapter also considers whether reasoning depends on images or models.

Keywords: mental models; spatial layouts; icons; images; spatial model; reasoning

Chapter.  7185 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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