What is the link between language and spatial images?

Marijn E. Struiksma, Matthijs Leendert Noordzij, Albert Postma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)
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In order to find objects or places in the world, multiple sources of information, such as visual input, auditory input and asking for directions, can help you. These different sources of information can be converged into a spatial image, which represents configurational characteristics of the world. This paper discusses the findings on the nature of spatial images and the role of spatial language in generating these spatial images in both blind and sighted individuals. Congenitally blind individuals have never experienced visual input, yet they are able to perform several tasks traditionally associated with spatial imagery, such as mental scanning, mental pathway completions and mental clock time comparison, though perhaps not always in a similar manner as sighted. Therefore, they offer invaluable insights into the exact nature of spatial images. We will argue that spatial imagery exceeds the input from different input modalities to form an abstract mental representation while maintaining connections with the input modalities. This suggests that the nature of spatial images is supramodal, which can explain functional equivalent results from verbal and perceptual inputs for spatial situations and subtle to moderate behavioral differences between the blind and sighted.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
JournalActa psychologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Blind
  • IR-70517
  • METIS-260576
  • Multimodal
  • Spatial imagery
  • Spatial language
  • Supramodal
  • Amodal

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