Spatial representation across species: geometry, language, and maps

Barbara Landau, Laura Lakusta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


We review growing evidence that the reorientation system - shared by both humans and nonhuman species - privileges geometric representations of space and exhibits many of the characteristic features of modular systems. We also review evidence showing that humans can move beyond the limits of nonhuman species by using two cultural constructions, language and explicit maps. We argue that, although both of these constructions are uniquely human means of enriching the spatial system we share with other species, their representational formats, functions, and developmental trajectories are quite different, yielding distinctly different tools for empowering human spatial cognition.The capacity to reorient using geometry is present in humans by the age of 18 months.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-19
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2009


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