Categorizing and Spatializing: How the Mind Organizes Knowledge
The world presents a vivid array of sights and sounds to the human observer. How do we make sense of this rich sensory input and organize it in our minds? In this talk, I will discuss two kinds of mental organization that pervade human cognition: categories and spatial representations. In research conducted in close collaboration with my undergraduate students, I have found evidence for categorically and spatially organized knowledge in a variety of domains, including color, objects, number, and emotion. We have shown, moreover, that such knowledge is connected to the world around us, and to the languages we speak, in novel and often surprising ways. For instance, we have found that (a) mental categories often reflect, and are shaped by, the words of our native language, but that forces beyond language also influence the categories we possess; and that (b) diverse forms of quantitative knowledge are spatialized in a common mental format. Our findings provide new insight into the language-thought interface and the perceptual foundations of abstract thinking, pointing to exciting future directions for faculty-student collaborative research on human cognition.
Pizza will be served!
Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm
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