Insight into others' minds: spatio-temporal representations by intrinsic frame of reference. Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent research has seen a growing interest in connections between domains of spatial and social cognition. Much evidence indicates that processes of representing space in distinct frames of reference (FOR) contribute to basic spatial abilities as well as sophisticated social abilities such as tracking other's intention and belief. Argument remains, however, that belief reasoning in social domain requires an innately dedicated system and cannot be reduced to low-level encoding of spatial relationships. Here we offer an integrated account advocating the critical roles of spatial representations in intrinsic frame of reference. By re-examining the results from a spatial task (Tamborello etal., 2012) and a false-belief task (Onishi and Baillargeon, 2005), we argue that spatial and social abilities share a common origin at the level of spatio-temporal association and predictive learning, where multiple FOR-based representations provide the basic building blocks for efficient and flexible partitioning of the environmental statistics. We also discuss neuroscience evidence supporting these mechanisms. We conclude that FOR-based representations may bridge the conceptual as well as the implementation gaps between the burgeoning fields of social and spatial cognition.

published proceedings

  • Front Hum Neurosci

altmetric score

  • 11.416

author list (cited authors)

  • Sun, Y., & Wang, H.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Sun, Yanlong||Wang, Hongbin

publication date

  • January 2014