Picture Smart:Spatial Reasoning and Its Role in Cognition

  • :: 7 Works Cited
  • Length: 1725 words (4.9 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document

Picture Smart:Spatial Reasoning and Its Role in Cognition

There are many theories about the nature of intelligence. The formal definition of intelligence is "the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge." One aspect or kind of intelligence, according Dr. Howard Gardner, founder of the multiple intelligence theory, is spatial intelligence(1). Spatial intelligence is one amongst eight kinds of intelligence. The most common description of spatial intelligence is the ability to be able to recreate one's visual experience and reasoning about shape, measurement, depiction and navigation.

Spatial intelligence might be one of less familiar kind of intelligence, however it has wide implications in many academic and professional disciplines. It is extremely important in disciplines such as mathematics and computer science. Spatial Intelligence also accounts for the thinking process of engineers, architects, designers, sculptors and inventors. This paper is an over all comprehension of spatial reasoning and why it is important in learning and problem solving, it is an investigation into what spatial reasoning is and its role in learning and cognition. This paper will also address the neurobiology of spatial reasoning and discuss the specific areas and organization of the brain that accounts for spatial intelligence.

There are many theories and models attempting to define spatial reasoning. The first model is called the MV/PD model. According to this model, spatial representation consist of two parts. The first is a metric diagram, which includes quantitative information and provides a substrate, which can support perceptual-like processing. The second part of the model is termed place vocabulary, which makes explicit qualitative distinction in shape and space relevant to the current task (2). Therefore, spatial reasoning is not just visualization of objects and space but also the ability to take qualitative information and then transformation them to spatial representations so that it can be better understood.

Spatial reasoning is useful in physics, math and computer science and can be applied to different industries. Engineers use graphs to express complex relationships, such as temperature-entropy or pressure volume plots, Often these graphs are sketches, intended to convey qualitative information about the shapes of curves and relative magnitudes rather than precise numerical values(2). Therefore, spatial reasoning is an essential part of the thinking process of scientist and engineers because they need to understand and interpret qualitative information in graphs and models in order to gain critical understanding of the problems at hand.

What exactly is the process through which humans use spatial reasoning to solve problems?

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Picture Smart:Spatial Reasoning and Its Role in Cognition." 123HelpMe.com. 20 May 2018
Title Length Color Rating  
Essay about The Effect of Fine Arts Instruction on Cognitive Development - The Effect of Fine Arts Instruction on Cognitive Development Does participating in the fine arts really improve a students’ intelligence. Many researchers have conducted tests to see if music instruction has an effect. “The arts traditionally have been valued as enriching a person’s life, but new research has found that music and art also stimulate brain development and enhance cognitive development” (Ferguson, 2000, para. 1-2). Cognitive is defined as relating to, being, or involving intellectual activity (Merriam-Webster, 2003)....   [tags: Fine Arts Education Intelligence Cognition Essays]
:: 13 Works Cited
3538 words
(10.1 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Fluency and Reasoning Essay - Introduction One of the most influential theories of cognition in the last century is that posited by William James (1890) in which he suggested that reasoning in humans is divided into two distinct processing systems. The first is quick, effortless, intuitive and has little demand for cognitive capacity (known as System 1 processes) while the other is slow, effortful, deliberate and requires use of cognitive resources (System 2 processes) (Alter, Oppenheimer, Eyre & Epley, 2007; Morsanyi & Handly, 2011)....   [tags: theories of cognition] 1359 words
(3.9 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Spatial Cognition and Navigation Essay example - Spatial Cognition and Navigation In the complex dissection of the human brain evolving in our course, great strides have been made on the path to comprehension of thought and action. Evidence concerning the true relationship of mind, body, and behavior has been elucidated through discoveries of the neural pathways enabling active translation of input to output. We have suggested the origins of action, discussed stimuli both internal and external, as well as concepts of self, agency, and personality interwoven with a more accessible comprehension of physical functionality....   [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Papers] 811 words
(2.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Moral Development and Importance of Moral Reasoning - 1.0 Introduction: Lawrence Kohlberg was the follower of Piaget’s theory of Moral development in principle but wanted to make his own theory by expanding his theory and study on that particular topic. Kohlberg was a very bright student and he served as a professor in the Harvard University. He become popular when he issued his Moral Development Theory by conducting research on that topic at Harvard’s Center for Moral Education. Kohlberg believed that people moral behaviors are based on their moral reasoning, and their moral reasoning changed in accordance to their behaviors and actions when they move from one stage to another....   [tags: Moral Reasoning]
:: 12 Works Cited
3004 words
(8.6 pages)
Research Papers [preview]
Moral Reasoning by the Great Philosophers Essay - "Moral thought, then, seems to behave like all other kinds of thought. Progress through the moral levels and stages is characterized by increasing differentiation and increasing integration, and hence is the same kind of progress that scientific theory represents." Quoted by Mr. Kohlberg himself. Kohlberg developed a set of stages on what he thought how man develops morally. Lawrence Kohlberg's reasoning for the stages of moral development stemmed from Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget; who was one of the first to study systematically moral reasoning in children....   [tags: reasoning, moral, code, development, ] 1380 words
(3.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Reasoning According to Kant - Reasoning According to Kant Kant believes that, reason thinks of all cognition as belonging to a unified and organized system. Reason is our faculty of making inferences and of identifying the grounds behind every truth. It allows us to move from the particular and contingent to the global and universal. Each cause, and each cause's cause, and each additional ascending cause must itself have a cause. Reason generates this hierarchy that combines to provide the mind with a conception of a whole system of nature....   [tags: Kant Philosophy Reasoning Essays] 725 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay about The Role of Behavior in Relation to Learning - In modern psychology, learning is an important topic. To understand learning, one must also understand the role of behavior in relation to learning. In psychology, classical conditioning, and instrumental conditioning are two types of learning that explain changes in behavior. The relationship between learning and cognition is necessary and their relationship helps to understand learning. With a definition of learning along with an understanding of behavior, the types of learning, and cognition, one can understand what learning is....   [tags: psychology, behavior, cognition]
:: 2 Works Cited
1057 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about The Role of Feelings in Moral Reasoning - The Role of Feelings in Moral Reasoning The discussion of how feelings affect morality is quite prevalent in both David Hume and Immanuel Kant’s works. While each philosopher touches on the topic of feelings, both men differ in their outlook on the role feelings play in our moral lives. While David Hume, seemed to feel that the human mind was nothing more then a series of sensations and feelings, Immanuel Kant argued that there exists more to our minds than just these feelings. David Hume based his whole ideology on a pleasure vs....   [tags: Papers] 718 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Situated Cognition Essay - Situated Cognition Learning and Knowledge Relates to Situated Cognition "Learning and knowing are integrally and inherently situated in the everyday world of human activity" (Wilson, 1993, p.71). Learning is situated in the context in which it is taught. In other words, the context in which something is learned is very important. The activity in which the learner is engaged in at the time of learning is also important (Griffin and Griffin, 1996, p.293). If the goal of a learner is to solve day-to-day life experiences, they must engage in such opportunities....   [tags: Learning Cognition Essays]
:: 10 Works Cited
1084 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Cognition - Cognition What is cognition. It is the general term given for mental activities. In cognitive psychology, it is the study of higher mental processes; memory, attention, language, reasoning etc. in contrast to behaviourists; cognitive psychologists are more ready to posit mechanisms and processes that are not directly observable, such as memory stores and switches of attention. Cognitive research includes several different facets of mental life, such as the use of imagery in representation, processes of decision making and problem solving and reasoning....   [tags: Papers] 1536 words
(4.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]

Related Searches

Another theory addressing spatial intelligence is called the mental model theory,
developed by Johnson-Laird and Byrne. According to the mental model theory, first, the person constructs a mental model of the premises of the problem. Second, the person draws a conclusion from the model that is informative. The model helps to extract information that is not directly asserted by the premises. Third, the participant tries to construct another alternative model to try and contradict the initial one, if they cannot construct an alternative model, then they take the first one to be correct(3). According to the mental model theory, reasoning is guided by a 'search for counter –examples procedure." However, if the search of counter examples takes too much working memory capacity, then the process of searching for counter examples to get the right answers will come to a halt. Also, the mental model theory predicts that problem difficulty increases as the number of different possible mental models increases.
To illustrate how mental models can be used to solve a problem and why the problem difficulty increases as the number of different possible model increases, consider these two problems.

Problem one:
1. A is on the right of B
2. C is on the left of B
3. D is in front of C
4. E is in front of B.
What is the relationship between D and E?

Problem two:
1. B is on the right of A.
2. C is on the left of B.
3. D is in front of C.
4. E is in front of B.
What is the relationship between D and E?

Both of the problem is expressed in the same number of expressions however, there is only one model for the first problem which looks like this. C B A D E
However, for the second problem there are two models: C B A and A C B D E D E

For the second problem the answer is the same, D is on the left of E regardless of the models. However, according to the result from studies on subjects trying to solve both problems, 70% of participants get the first one right where as only 46% get the second right. This result is consistent with the mental model theory and its prediction that the problem gets more difficult if there the number of possible model increases.
According to the last two paragraphs, spatial intelligence is an essential part of how we absorb and process problems. If this is true, then would it make sense to say that spatial reasoning has an overall effect on intelligence or IQ? IQ, or intelligence quotient is found to have a direct correlation with RT, which is the decision time. The equation for RT is RT=mx+c. This equation is called Hick's law, according to equation, IQ is proportional to the slope m, which is a representation of the processing speed; m is lower in individuals with higher IQ(4). A challenge to this idea is that slope relates only weakly to IQ and that the absolute RT correlates better to IQ. This implies that IQ correlates better with choice RT or the c intercept. Studies had also shown that when the choices or stimulus is increased in complexity and spatial representations of the choices, the Hick's equation can produce the same correlation of IQ to RT without having to focus on just m, the processing speed. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that spatial effect added to the experience has a significant influence on RT and in turn also on IQ and that "effects of spatial attention requirements on choice RT may provide a better measure of intelligence than just measuring the processing speed (4)."

Now we know that spatial reasoning is significant to the way we learn and has a direct relationship in reference to intelligence, it is also important to look into the brain and the specific region of the brain that accounts for spatial intelligence. In order to detect the area of the brain that is responsible for spatial awareness scientists conduct studies on individuals who are deficient in spatial detection. When four individual with left lesion and another four with right lesion were asked to replicate a model of a house. Drawings of the right-lesion individuals show spatial disorganization, left hemisphere neglect and lack of perspective(5). This study indicates that spatial awareness is probably a function of the right hemisphere of the brain.

A recent article in nature confirms this presumption. According to the article, at first the area of the brain though to be responsible for spatial awareness is the posterior parietal lobe. However, by studying individuals with "pure" spatial defection rather than spatial defection along with deficiencies in other areas indicates that spatial awareness is " largely confined to the right superior temporal cortex, a location topographically reminiscent that of language on the left (6)

Since the brain needs to process problems involving space and dimension, it is not absurd to say that the functional brain structure can be described in geometric terms. In the book Brain Theory: Spatio-temporal aspects of brain function, the author argues that the brain exist primarily in space and the function of the brain, especially in the "front end" or visual system, can be viewed and understood geometrically(7). This notion of the brain as a geometry engine demonstrates that the way information is processed in the brain adheres to the structure of the brain. The brain is not purely logical and linear, therefore, when data or information is passed through it, it does not solved the problem in linear steps, it makes more sense to perceive the brain as an organ that naturally stores the information in different areas and then constructs models from the data and correlates different data according to the models in order to derive an answer or solution.

So far we've discuss spatial intelligence and its role in cognition and problem solving, we also discuss the neurobiological aspects of spatial reasoning and found out what areas of the brain accounts of spatial awareness. At the beginning of the paper, spatial intelligence is only one kind of intelligence, however, as I found out more about the topic, I am convinced that spatial reasoning is not separate from other kind of intelligence but is a part of many thinking processes. No matter what the problem at hand is, it always helps to use spatial representation such as pictures, graphs models and metaphors, if not written physically, than envisioned mentally to better understand the problem and come to a valid conclusion. As I finish this paper, I begin to view the multiple intelligence theory in a different light, instead of perceiving spatial intelligence or any other kind of intelligence as completely different entities unrelated to each other, I start to ponder the possibility that intelligence is consisting of all kinds of thinking processes that are interrelated and interactive to prompt the individual to absorb and process information in the most efficient way.


1)Resources in Teaching, Multiple Intelligence, A listing and description of the eight kinds of intelligence.

2)Looking At Changes in Spatial Reasoning, Description of the Role of Spatial Reasoning in different fields of studies.

3) 3. Van der Henst, Jean Baptiste. "The Mental Model of theory of spatial reasoning reexamined : The role of relevance in premise order." British Journal of Psychology, 90 (1999) , 73(1).

4) Bates, Tim and Con Sough." Processing Speed, Attention, and Intelligence:Effect of Spatial Attention on Decision Time in High and Low IQ Subjects." Personality and individual Differences. 23 (1997), 861-868

5) Poizner, Kilma, and Ursula Bellugi. What the Hands Reveal about the Brain. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1987

6) Hans-Otto Karnath, Susanne Ferber and Marc Himmelbach." Spatial Awareness is a function of the temporal not the posterior lobe." Nature. 411 ( 2001), 950-953.

7) A. Arrtsen. Brain Theory: Spatio-Temporal Aspects of Brain Funcion. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1993

Return to 123HelpMe.com