Spatial representations are specific to different domains of knowledge

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Abstract

There is evidence that many abstract concepts are represented cognitively in a spatial format. However, it is unknown whether similar spatial processes are employed in different knowledge domains, or whether individuals exhibit similar spatial profiles within and across domains. This research investigated similarities in spatial representation in two knowledge domains--mathematics and music. Sixty-one adults completed analogous number magnitude and pitch discrimination tasks: the Spatial-Numerical Association of Response Codes and Spatial-Musical Association of Response Codes tasks. Subgroups of individuals with different response patterns were identified through cluster analyses. For both the mathematical and musical tasks, approximately half of the participants showed the expected spatial judgment effect when explicitly cued to focus on the spatial properties of the stimuli. Despite this, performances on the two tasks were largely independent. Consistent with previous research, the study provides evidence for the spatial representation of number and pitch in the majority of individuals. However, there was little evidence to support the claim that the same spatial representation processes underpin mathematical and musical judgments.

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APA

Beecham, R., Reeve, R. A., & Wilson, S. J. (2009). Spatial representations are specific to different domains of knowledge. PLoS ONE, 4(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005543

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