Visuospatial Thinking

Mary Hegarty and Andrew T. Stull

in The Oxford Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199734689
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Visuospatial Thinking

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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Visuospatial thinking includes thinking about space at the smaller scale of objects and at the larger scale of environments. It also includes situations in which we use visuospatial representations to think about nonspatial entities. At the scale of objects, this chapter reviews the types of representations and processes that underlie object recognition and categorization, the nature of visuospatial mental images of objects, and how these are processed in interactions with objects and in reasoning and problem solving. At the scale of environments, we examine the nature of environmental spatial representations and the processes that operate on these to keep us oriented in space, to reorient ourselves when we are lost, to learn the layout of new environments, and to plan routes through familiar environments. Finally, the chapter reviews how spatial representations are used metaphorically, to think about nonspatial entities, in language, reasoning, and graphics.

Keywords: imagery; navigation; spatial updating; cognitive maps; spatial metaphors; diagrams; graphs

Article.  18132 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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