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Use of geometry for spatial reorientation in children applies only to symmetrical spaces.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date05/2010
JournalDevelopmental Science
Journal number3
Volume13
Number of pages9
Pages490-498
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Proponents of the geometric module hypothesis argue that following disorientation, many species reorient by use of macro-environment geometry. It is suggested that attention to the surface layout geometry of natural terrain features may have been selected for over evolutionary time due to the enduring and unambiguous location information it provides. Paradoxically, however, tests of the hypothesis have been exclusively conducted in symmetric (hence 'unnatural' and geometrically ambiguous) environments. The present series of studies examines reorientation by 18-month-3-year-old children in a rectangular versus irregular quadrilateral enclosure (Study 1), a rectangular versus irregular quadrilateral array (Study 2) and an isosceles versus irregular triangular array (Study 3). Children were successful in symmetric but not asymmetric environments, casting doubt on the functional argument for an empirical basis of the geometric module hypothesis.