Reference Frame Selection in Spatial Term Use: Computational and Empirical Studies

12 April 2012
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Previous studies have shown that multiple different reference frames are available and compete for selection in the scope of the use of spatial terms such as “above”. However, much existing work does not centrally address the mechanisms that underlie the selection of reference frames. To shed further light on the selection mechanisms three existing computational models addressing selection in different areas of human cognition are considered. The models are compared regarding their ability to account for existing and new empirical data comprising acceptance rates, response times, and response time distributions. Only one of the three models satisfactorily accounts for the empirical observations. The properties of this model as well as the failure of the other two models has important implications for our understanding not only of spatial term use, in particular, but also of conflict and selection in human cognition more generally.