The Development of Spatial Cognition
As we have pointed out, the origins of spatial concepts lie in the structural descriptions constructed to represent objects and events. Spatial information pertaining to the internal forms of objects, to relations between objects, and between objects and their environments constitute part of the implicit structural descriptions which underlie the perception and representation of objects and events. The progressive explication of that spatial information is involved in the development of both structured categories such as shape, and relational categories such as location and direction. The extraction or explication of these categories, themselves spatial propositions such as those representating simple Euclidean shapes, permits the detection of invariant features in the structural descriptions across many different objects or events. Similarly, explicitly known spatial relations, as marked in the lexicon for example, are an abstraction of the relationships that hold between and within objects. When meanings can be assigned to these spatial aspects of the structural descriptions of objects, making in effect, the forms and relations explicit objects of thought, then spatial cognition, the perception and representation of space per se, becomes possible. This process of explication of implicit structure is recursive and may be carried out at any level of abstraction. Our concern in this chapter is to set out the primary aspects of the development of spatial cognition.