From Geometry to Behavior: An introduction to spatial cognition

Author: Hanspeter A. Mallot
Publisher: The MIT Press
Published: January 23, 2024
ISBN: 9780262547116
Pages: 328
Language: English


In “From Geometry to Behavior,” cognitive neuroscientist Hanspeter A. Mallot offers a comprehensive examination of how both animals and humans navigate and understand space, drawing from a wide array of disciplines such as ethology, neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, geography, and spatial information theory. The book delves into the basic mechanisms of spatial behavior and illustrates how these mechanisms are integrated to facilitate complex spatial tasks. Mallot discusses the perception and construction of spatial environments, emphasizing the significance of cognitive maps in understanding visual and large spaces.

Mallot’s work seeks to solidify the study of spatial cognition as a distinct scientific discipline. He adopts a psychophysical approach, providing quantitative analyses of behavioral patterns and their connections to the physical world, thereby bridging gaps between computational neuroscience, robotics, and computational geometry. The book begins with a discussion on the historical and scientific perspectives on space, followed by detailed explorations of spatial behavior from simple to complex forms, highlighting the role of memory. It addresses sophisticated spatial functions such as navigation, spatial planning, and the manipulation of objects, situating these abilities within a broader cognitive framework that also encompasses visual and object recognition, understanding events and causality, and social cognition, including language. Mallot posits that spatial cognition is among the earliest cognitive abilities to have evolved and is prevalent across the animal kingdom, underscoring its foundational role in cognitive development. This volume is not only a deep dive into the biological and cognitive underpinnings of spatial awareness but also touches on the philosophical aspects of spatial knowledge, making it a pivotal resource for anyone interested in the intersections of mind, space, and behavior.


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