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Theses

Développement des représentations spatiales d'itinéraires virtuels : composantes cognitives et langagières

Abstract : Although many studies have investigated spatial representation in young adults, little is still known about the processes underlying how they construct spatial models, the nature of these models, and how they develop in children. The originality of this thesis is two-fold: it studies both cognitive and linguistic processes involved in how children (5 to 11 years) and adults construct representation of virtual routes; it also examines individual differences in these processes. The first part of this thesis begins with a chapter that presents the main concepts underlying spatial cognition, as well as some experimental evidence concerning adults' spatial knowledge and the development of this knowledge during childhood. A second chapter then focuses on the role of language and a third one on the role of working memory in the construction of spatial representations. In order to understand how children construct spatial representation during development, a second part of the thesis presents three experiments investigating the development of landmark and route knowledge. The first two studies show developments in the quality and quantity of knowledge concerning both landmarks (i.e. specific entities encountered along the route) and the route (i.e. the sequential order of actions and landmarks). They also provide evidence supporting the specific role of landmarks associated with changes of direction ("decisional" landmarks) in children and adults. Developmental changes in spatial knowledge were assessed by both verbal and non-verbal measures, suggesting the existence of a unique representation or of two representations that are strongly related. The relation between verbal and non-verbal information in participants' representations is evidenced by their bias toward choosing a related landmark of the same semantic category, regardless of its visual characteristics. Nevertheless, analyses show that visuo-spatial abilities such as the perception of directions, but not verbal abilities, play a main role in accounting for individual differences. The third study, investigates verbal and visuo-spatial components of working memory, using a dual task paradigm in which participants performed a verbal or spatial interference task while memorizing routes. The results support the idea that representing itineraries mostly involves a spatial mode of encoding in children and a more verbal or mixed encoding in adults. To conclude, this thesis shows a development in children's capacity to build spatial representations of virtual routes. Although their representation seems to integrate both verbal and non-verbal components, non-verbal abilities appear to be most essential for children. The last part of the thesis discusses the implications of our results for our understanding of the development of spatial cognition in children, as well as future perspectives and conclusions.
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Marion Nys. Développement des représentations spatiales d'itinéraires virtuels : composantes cognitives et langagières. Psychologie. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015USPCB084⟩. ⟨tel-01410035⟩

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