Connecting campuses to promote excellence in math and science


Kevin Holmes

Colorado College
Language and space as windows into the mind
A central goal in cognitive science is to understand how knowledge is organized in the human mind. In this talk, I explore the extent to which such conceptual organization reflects structure inherent in language and in the spatial world. I will present two sets of experiments that provide evidence for previously unrecognized mappings among linguistic categories, spatial representations, and the conceptual system. These experiments show that word meanings at multiple levels of semantic structure are psychologically salient, and that spatial representations support thinking and reasoning about number and other forms of quantitative information. Together, these findings highlight language and space as rich sources of insight into concepts and their properties. I will discuss the implications of this work for ongoing debates on the relation between language and thought and on the perceptual foundations of abstract concepts.
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