Spatial Development

Nora S. Newcombe, David H Uttal, Megan Sauter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter is a selective review of spatial development, stressing several points. First, we suggest that spatial development can be usefully considered to have two strands: (a) the development of intraobject (or intrinsic) representations along with the ability to transform them (e.g., in mental rotation) and (b) the development of interobject (or extrinsic) representations and the ability to use them to navigate. Second, we argue that both lines of development begin from strong starting points, but also undergo considerable development. They are far from innately specified, nor do they have a modular architecture. Third, we discuss the amplification of spatial skills by human symbolic capabilities, including language, use of maps and models, and gesture. Fourth, we identify areas where research is lacking, most notably the formal description of intraobject skills and the charting of their normative development, the exploration of the sources of individual differences in navigation-relevant skills, and the applications of research to education.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationhe Oxford Handbook of Developmental Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationBody and Mind
EditorsPhilip David Zelazo
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9780199958450
StatePublished - 2013


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