How Vertical Spaces Are Perceived and Represented


The purpose of this symposium is to highlight how the vertical dimension is perceived and represented differently from the horizontal dimensions, and the role of this dimension in spatial learning. This is a new and important issue because literature on spatial cognition has hitherto neglected the study of the vertical dimension, under the assumption that space can identically be investigated in the horizontal plane. This notion, while untested, ignores a crucial, unique property of the vertical dimension – that of being parallel to the force of gravity, which poses constraints on affordances and energetic potential. Additionally, the ability to move freely in three dimensions imposes computational complexities not present in two. New research impetus is trying to clarify the role of the vertical dimension in space. The present symposium will try to tie together different perspectives (psychophysics, cognition, neurophysiology), using different animal models (human and non-human), and different experimental methods (real and virtual environments), in order to provide a synthetic view on this issue, and to establish future goals of common interest. We focus here on two aspects of three-dimensional space: surface properties (e.g., hills and valleys) and volumetric properties.

Back to Table of Contents