The sources of spatial cognition

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This chapter compares three theoretical conceptions of infants’ early knowledge of entities and spatial representations. Piaget and neo-piagetian conceptions emphasize the role of motor activity. Nativism postulates the existence of preprogrammed core knowledge comprising the basic rules governing the physical environment. Perceptual theories hypothesize that these rules can be rapidly learned through early perceptual activity. These different views are confronted to three types of data: infants’ use of depth cues in two-dimensional displays, the emergence of object permanence, and the conditions for success or failure in tasks that involve searching for objects, with particular attention to the impact of motor impairment. Our main conclusion is that this evidence provides more support for the perceptual view than for other views.


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