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Factors in the Development of Spatial Cognition in Boys and Girls

Assessing the Impacts of Biology and Navigational Experience

Mariah G. Schug

Spatial cognition represents one of the best-established sex differences in cognitive science. There is a pervasive tendency for males to outperform females on multiple spatial reasoning tasks. While prenatal hormones may provide a foundation for these differences, childhood experience also plays an important role. This current article examines how biological factors may interact with environmental and cultural factors. Of particular interest is the cross-cultural literature in which children’s naturalistic experiences exploring their environments can be linked to the development of spatial skills. Based on the examined research, children who gain more navigational experience tend to perform better on spatial tasks. Because boys typically have greater opportunities to explore and navigate, this difference in experience may contribute to the observed sex differences in spatial performance.

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Daniel T. Levin and Caryn Wang

Levin and Simons (2000) argued that perceptual experience in film and the real world share a deep similarity in that both rely on inferences that visual properties are stable across views. This article argues that the perception and representation of visual space also reveal deep commonalities between film and the real world. The article reviews psychological research on visual space that suggests that we not only attend to similar spatial cues both in film and in nonmediated settings, but also that the rules for combining and selecting among these cues are similar. In exploring these links, it becomes clear that there is a bidirectional relationship between cognitive psychology and film editing that allows each to provide important insights about the other.