Sentence memorability reveals the mental representations involved in processing spatial descriptions

Fleming, Piers and Ball, Linden J. and Ormerod, Thomas C. and Collins, Alan F. (2011) Sentence memorability reveals the mental representations involved in processing spatial descriptions. Thinking and Reasoning, 17 (1). pp. 30-56. ISSN 1354-6783

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Enhanced memorability for first-sentence information was used as a probe to examine the mental representations underpinning the processing of spatial descriptions, with a focus on analogue, mental model representations versus propositional representations. In Experiment 1 rotating the visual layout of a spatial description slowed its recognition, a result that is strongly indicative of an analogue representation. In contrast, the surface details of spatial descriptions were recalled after 2 weeks, with advantages for information that was repeated or mentioned in first sentences. Although suggestive of propositional representations, these latter findings are not decisive. In Experiment 2, however, the determinacy of spatial relations influenced the recognition of their descriptions (indicative of analogue representations), but first-sentence information aided only the recall of the original text and not the spatial layout (indicative of propositional representations). Overall, these results are consistent with the existence of separate and non-integrated analogue and propositional representations of spatial information that trade computational efficiency for task appropriateness.

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Journal Article
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Thinking and Reasoning
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16 Dec 2011 11:59
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 21:59