When: 12:00 pm
While reading this abstract, you will employ your ‘verbal mind’ – a flexible cognitive system that allows you to work with rich compositions of verbal information. With its core faculties of language and reasoning, the verbal mind is critical to our lives. Yet, so far it has remained much of a mystery to cognitive science. How is the evolutionary trick of ‘thinking verbally’ grounded in the brain? I propose a research program that looks for an answer to this question in an unexpected place: the realm of spatial cognition. Whereas there is a long and strong tradition to separate the elementary principles of the verbal mind from the spatial brain, I here argue that the latter has provided the necessary machinery from which the flexible verbal mind has flourished. I outline serial order in working memory as a case study, and discuss a large set of studies in support of spatial coding for serial order across verbal items. Next, I discuss how I envisage a broad research program that explores the potentially spatial foundations of the verbal mind beyond serial order.