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Chapter 10

PSYB65 - Chapter 10 - Dec 6, 2010

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Ted Petit

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Chapter 10: Spatial Ability
Module 10.1: Spatial Ability
-When we process the position, direction, or movement of objects or points in space, we are using
some form of spatial ability.
-At least 6 discrete basic components
1. Targeting (how well you can throw an object at a target)
2. Spatial orientation (how well you can recognize items even when they are placed in different
orientations, or directions)
3. Spatial location memory (how well you can remember the locations of objects)
4. Spatial visualization (how well you can imagine how well pieces of an object would go
5. Disembedding (how well you can find figures that are hidden within other pictures)
6. Spatial perception (how well you can determine where horizontal or vertical is in the real world
even if you are given distracting information)
-Left hemisphere: language processing; right hemisphere: spatial processing
-Neurologically normal people can identify the location of a dot more readily when it occurs in the
left visual field (projected to the right hemisphere).
-Depth perception – ability to determine relative position of an object; divides into 2 types:
1. Local depth perception – ability to use detailed features of objects point by point to assess
relative position.
Determination of which object is in front of another shows a left visual field advantage in
normals, whereas both right and left hemisphere lesions disrupt local depth perception.
2. Global depth perception – ability to use the difference between the information reaching each eye
to compute the entire visual scene.
Brain computes the differences in the images presented to the two eyes and fuses these
images to produce depth.
No obvious features, so local depth perception cues cannot be responsible for this effect.
-Line orientation – e/g/ being able to differentiate between letter b and p
Right hemisphere advantage for both tactile and visual assessment of line orientation
If lines can be described verbally, e.g.horizontal line and “vertical line, then left
hemisphere advantage.
-Object geometry – spatial properties of an object that are used to determine whether or not an item
shares similar spatial properties with another
-Detection of motion is related to increased activity in the right hemisphere, particularly in occipital,
temporal, and parietal areas associated with the processing of visual information.
-Mental rotation – rotation of an object that does not occur overtly. In many mental rotation tasks,
participants are often presented with two or more items that are rotated in different positions and
asked to determine whether they are the same or different.
-Ventral visual streamwhat pathway useful for identifying objects; Dorsal visual stream – “how
pathway; to know how motor acts must be performed to manipulate an object.
-Parietal areas 5 and 7 – allow stable cognitive maps to be made.
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Respond to movements that occur in specific directions, allowing objects to be tracked in
Do not receive much information about the colour or the fine details of the object.
Sensitivity to movement and speed allows area 7 to analyze space, and update positions of
objects in space.
-Parietal regions are lesioned in monkeys; there are some striking deficits in spatial ability 
impaired at computing spatial relations among objects.
-Discrimination of form (ventral stream); discrimination of spatial location (dorsal stream)
-Some cells in the parietal lobe are sensitive to the visual qualities of the object, e.g. texture, and
influence how the hands manipulate an object.
-Reciprocal connections of the parietal lobes with the frontal lobes dorsal stream for coordinating
movements with the spatial location of objects
-System of parietal cells that project to areas of the frontal lobes, to both the premotor and prefrontal
cortex. Frontal areas receive massive inputs from somatosensory, auditory, and visual association
areas of the parietal lobes.
-In frontal lobe, there are nuclei that are responsible for directing head and eye movements toward
stimuli in grasping space. These nuclei communicate with the parietal lobes, enhancing our ability to
program motor movements aimed at reaching and grasping objects in space.
-In one study, participants were asked to think about constructing 3-dimensional object. 
predictable activation of the dorsal stream in the parietal lobe + activation of the dorsal premotor
cortex in the frontal lobe this task relies on short-term visuospatial memory/visuospatial working
-Dorsal stream – to identify where an object is in space and guide motor movements; Ventral stream
identify an object and decide what an object is (occipital to temporal lobes).
-Hippocampus appears to engage in processing memory for places, e.g. how to get to your home or
the location of your next class Damages to the hippocampal formation results in an inability to
form new memories for places. Memory formed before damaged is not affected.
-Place cells – respond in a very precise fashion, in that some cells respond only to certain locations
and other cells respond only to other locations.
E.g. when a rat is placed in an unfamiliar environment, none of the place cells responds. As the
rat becomes more familiar to the environment, a place cell will begin to respond to specific
locations within the environment.
-When we interact with the spatial locations of objects, we can utilize three types of information
about the object:
1. Position responses – made with movements using the body as a referent
Do not need any cues that are external to the body, and they are automatic
2. Cued responses – types of movements that are guided by a cue
Guide by changes in how we perceive the stimulus rely on the perception of information
that is external to the body
Compares the body with another object
3. Place responses – responses that you make toward a particular location or object
Can be made when the stimulus is not currently present, and they tend to be rational
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