Title

An Asymmetry in Shape and Shape Word Interference: Evidence for Core Geometric Knowledge

Document Type

Presentation

Publication Date

3-2014

Abstract

Nativists have postulated fundamental geometric knowledge that predates linguistic and symbolic thought. Central to these claims is the existence of an isolated cognitive system dedicated to processing geometric information. Testing such hypotheses presents challenges due to difficulties in eliminating the combination of geometric and non-geometric information through language. We present evidence using a modified matching interference paradigm that an incongruent shape word interferes with identifying a shape, but an incongruent shape does not interfere with identifying a shape word. This asymmetry in shape and shape word interference suggests that shape words activate spatial representations of shapes but shapes do not activate linguistic representations of shape words. Results are consistent with hypotheses concerning a cognitive system dedicated to processing geometric information isolated from linguistic processing and provide evidence consistent with hypotheses concerning core knowledge of geometric properties of space that predates linguistic and symbolic thought.

Sponsorship/Conference/Institution

Comparative Cognition Society’s International Conference on Comparative Cognition (CCS)

Location

Melbourne, FL

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