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The spatial foundations of the conceptual system

  • Jean M. Mandler (a1)

Abstract

This article proposes that the representation of concepts in infancy is in the form of spatial image-schemas. A mechanism that simplifies spatial information is described along with a small set of spatial primitives that are sufficient to account for the conceptualizations that preverbal infants use to interpret objects and events. This early system is important to understand because it organizes the adult conceptual system of objects and events and remains its core. With development, the system becomes enriched by language in several ways, and also by means of analogical extension to non-spatial information. Nonspatial bodily information, such as feelings of force and motor activity, is also added, but remains secondary. It becomes associated with spatial representations, but except for its spatial aspects is represented in a more inchoate and less accessible fashion.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence addresses: Jean Mandler, Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92093, USA. E-mail: jmandler@ucsd.edu.

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