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Human Cognition in the Geographic Domain

Human Cognition in the Geographic Domain

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Human Cognition in the Geographic Domain

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  1. Human Cognition in the Geographic Domain David M. Mark Department of Geography, UB

  2. Spatial Cognition • Spatial cognition is a well established field in cognitive psychology • Topics include: Mental rotation; position recall; maze tracing • Landau & Jackendoff: “What and Where in Language and Cognition” • Different systems in the brain for handling object categories (what) and spatial locations (where)

  3. Geography • Geography is a discipline that studies the Earth’s surface: • What is where? • Why are things where they are? • Where will things be in the future? • Where should they be? • Is Geographic cognition different from spatial cognition? • Probably…

  4. What is meant by “Geographic”? • Class participation: what do you think? • Not exactly a synonym for spatial • Borderline cases • iceberg, supertanker, tree, building, … • Geographic: A subset of spatial, mesoscopic reality, distances > 20 m

  5. Is the "geographic domain" a coherent subdomain of reality? • How would we even start to answer that? • Is the geographic domain cognitively distinct? • There is lots of evidence that geographic space is dealt with differently than the table-top world of manipulable objects, although there must be a transition between them

  6. Granö • Johannes Granö was a geographer in Finland, who wrote a book called “Pure Geography” in the 1930s • He claimed that the subject matter of Geography is, or should be, the human perceptual environment • He proposed that the human perceptual environment idea is divided into two zones: the proximity and the landscape • The proximity is a zone within about 20 meters (70 feet), that is perceived as 3D and multisensory; • The landscape is farther away, largely 2D (projected image) and mainly visual • Landscape in Granö's sense is close to what we call geographic

  7. Major Topics in Geographic Cognition Research • Wayfinding and navigation • Mental maps and knowledge of geographic configurations • Spatial Relations • Spatial Reference Frames • Human-computer Interaction for GIS • Geographic Entities and their Categories

  8. Wayfinding and Navigation • Landmarks; distance and direction • Possible gender-related differences • Other species (rats, pigeons, honeybees) • Giving directions • Vehicle navigation systems • Links to behavioral geography, trying to understand choice of shops, homes

  9. ‘Mental Maps’ and Knowledge of Geographic Phenomena

  10. Spatial Relations • Geographic space is essentially 2-D • Road-park experiments (see below) • Inside, outside, enters, crosses • perhaps two more, goes to and goes along • Why those 4 (or 6)

  11. Numbers of ‘Different’ Spatial Relations • The 9-intersection model defines • 8 distinct spatial relations between two regions • 33 distinct spatial relations between two unbranched lines • 19 spatial relations between an unbranched line and a region

  12. 8 relations between two regions

  13. The 19 line-region relations

  14. Spatial Reference Frames • Several different types of Reference Frames • Viewer/speaker centered (in front of the tree) • Object centered (in front of the car) • Absolute/geographic • A significant minority of cultures and languages use 'geographic' reference frames indoors • This does this mean that think about space differently

  15. Human-Computer Interaction for GIS • Are HCI issues different for the geographic / GIS domain? • Perhaps there are no unique problems in the intersection • The space-for-space problem might be one?

  16. Geographic Entities and Their Categories • A really different aspect of the geographic domain is the preponderance of landforms, features (shape-based parts) of other things • The only geographical detached objects (JJ Gibson) are whole planets

  17. "Do mountains exist?" • The individuation or delimitation problem • The gradation problem • The categories (eg., mountain vs. hill)

  18. Hills and Mountains • Mountain: 1. a. A large natural elevation of the earth's surface, esp. one high and steep in form (larger and higher than a hill) (OED)

  19. Hills and Mountains • Hill: 1. a. A natural elevation of the earth's surface … after the introduction of the word ‘mountain’ [into English], gradually restricted to heights of less elevation; … (OED)

  20. Hills and Mountains: Not Simply a Matter of Size! • Hill: “a more rounded and less rugged outline is also usually connoted by the name” (OED) ?? Hill Mountain

  21. #76 “Finger Rock” “Shiprock” • 4 • B • Shiprock area • buttes/ monoliths • P9250035 For features too small to be ‘mountains’, yet too jagged to be ‘hills’, English relies on other terms, such as rock, butte, peak, mesa, etc.… “Mitten Buttes” “Picacho Peak”

  22. Thank you for your attention!For more information, see http://www.geog.buffalo.edu/ncgia/ethnophysiography/Email: dmark@buffalo.edu