Carving up space at imaginary joints: Can people mentally impose arbitrary spatial category boundaries?

Vanessa R. Simmering, John P. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Empirical attempts to understand connections between abstract cognition and sensori-motor processes have pointed toward an embodied view of cognition, where cognitive activity is strongly tied to sensori-motor activity. Here the authors test the ability of the cognitive system to impose structure on the world using a well-established phenomenon in spatial cognition--biases near spatial category boundaries. Results from 5 experiments suggest that participants were unable to mentally impose a spatial category boundary without perceptual support, even when explicitly instructed to do so. The authors conclude by considering the implications of these findings for abstraction within other domains of cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-894
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007

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