Tethering to the World, Coming Undone

Barbara Landau, Kirsten O'hearn, James E. Hoffman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter examines the role of embodiment in the development of spatial cognition. Using evidence from normally developing children and individuals with Williams syndrome-a rare genetic deficit leading to severe spatial impairment-we argue that, although interactions between the body and world play an interesting role in the development and use of rich spatial representations of the world, these interactions by themselves cannot be a substitute for abstract representations. Indeed, we will argue that real advances in developing spatial cognitive functions require that people become untethered from the physical world-capable of thought that goes beyond our current connections with the world. This kind of thought requires spatial representations that are rich, robust, and amenable to mental manipulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Spatial Foundations of Language and Cognition
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191720444
ISBN (Print)9780199553242
StatePublished - May 1 2010


  • Block construction
  • Deictic
  • Developmental disorder
  • Index
  • Spatial representation
  • Visuospatial
  • Williams syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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