A geometric process for spatial reorientation in young children

Abstract

DISORIENTED1–3 rats and non-human primates reorient themselves using geometrical features of the environment2,4–6. In rats tested in environments with distinctive geometry, this ability is impervious to non-geometric information (such as colours and odours) mark-ing important locations and used in other spatial tasks7. Here we show that adults use both geometric and non-geometric information to reorient themselves, whereas young children, like mature rats, use only geometric information. These findings provide evi-dence that: (1) humans reorient in accord with the shape of the environment; (2) the young child's reorientation system is impervious to all but geometric information8, even when non-geometric information is available and is represented by the child-such information should improve performance and is used in similar tasks by the oriented child; and (3) the limits of this process are overcome during human development.

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Hermer, L., Spelke, E. A geometric process for spatial reorientation in young children. Nature 370, 57–59 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1038/370057a0

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