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All living things need to move in order to survive. Even plants rooted in the ground move toward the sun, away from the wind. When movement stops, life stops. The most fundamental movement is toward or away, toward things that attract, away from things that repel. Attract-repel replete with emotion. Moving in space creates traces in the brain, places in the hippocampus, maps next door on grid cells in the entorhinal cortex. Those grid cells are used to array places in real spaces, events in temporal spaces, ideas in conceptual spaces, people in social spaces. Spatial thinking is the foundation of thought, not the entire edifice, but the foundation, as revealed in the brain, by the body, in the ways we think and talk.
Barbara Tversky is a professor emerita of psychology at Stanford University and a professor of psychology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Tversky specializes in cognitive psychology. She is an authority in the areas of visual-spatial reasoning and collaborative cognition. Tversky’s research interests include language and communication, comprehension of events and narratives, and the mapping and modeling of cognitive processes. She is the author of Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought. Basic Books, 2019.
Tversky received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1963 and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1969. She has served on the faculty of Stanford University since 1977 and of Teachers College, Columbia University, since 2005.
Tversky was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013, named a Fellow of the American Psychological Society in 1995, the Cognitive Science Society in 2002, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists in 2004. In 1999, she received the Phi Beta Kappa Excellence in Teaching Award. In addition, Tversky has served on the editorial boards of multiple prominent academic journals, including Psychological Research (1976–1984), the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition (1976–1982), the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (1982–1988), Memory and Cognition (1989–2001), and Cognitive Psychology (1995–2002).