Geographical Cognition of the Real World

Release date:2021-12-15 Update date:2023-08-23 Editor:admin View counts:2271


Geographical Cognition of the Real World

The geographical environment is complex and diverse. To correctly understand, master and apply this wide and complex information, it is necessary to refine, remove false and retain true processing, which requires a scientific understanding of the geographical environment. Cognition of complex objects is an abstract process from perceptual to rational knowledge. For the same objective world, people in different social sectors or disciplines often have different concerns and research objects, which will produce different environmental images。

The Meaning of Cognition

Cognition belongs to the category of psychology. Cognitive theory was introduced into cartography as early as the 1970s, and the “stimulus-response” relationship model was used to study the psychological-physical reactions of the mapper when reading the graph. The study of cartographic visualization, which started in 1990s, has also applied cognitive concepts, which has pushed the study of “stimulus-response” model forward. The essence of cartographic visualization is to explore people’s understanding of spatial objects in the process of cartographic information transmission. According to the needs of spatial information analysis and spatial information visualization, cognition should be an organic process of information processing, which includes perception, attention, representation, memory, learning, thinking, language, concept formation, problem solving, emotion and personality differences。

In a simple cognitive system, the perception system inputs stimuli from the external environment, transforms and integrates them, extracts stimulus features and combines them, and outputs coded physical stimuli. The long-term memory system matches the input coded physical stimulus with the information that the system can only perceive. Some of the information is activated, and this part of the activated information is sent to the short-term memory system. Short-term memory system finely processes the limited input information and outputs actions, languages and expressions by reflecting the system. The central processor controls and processes the system, decides the sequence of targets and supervises the execution of current targets. Figure 2-2 describes the framework of spatial cognition。


Fig. 12 Spatial Cognition

Spatial cognition

Geographers and psychologists have done a lot of research on space and got many interesting conclusions. They have become the basis of the spatial decision-making of researchers in behavioral geography. Studing spatial cognition in GIS can guide the establishment of more human thinking.The following is the knowledge related to spatial cognition。

1) Formation and Development of Individual Spatial Cognition

According to J. Piaget, spatial cognition has four levels: The level of sensorimotor level, which is based on the representation of action; The level of Pre-operation is based on the perceptual image of the objective world obtained from memory; The level of concrete operation, which allows for symbolic and systematic environmental psychological representation; The level of Formal Operational, in which the individual has the ability of hypothesis-deductive reasoning and can deal with abstract spatial concepts independent of action, object and space. Figure 2-3 shows the development of spatial cognition in the process of individual growth。


Fig. 13 Individual Development of Spatial Awareness

2) Spatial information coding in consciousness [Elisabeth S. Nelson]

There are three main theories about the encoding of spatial information in individual consciousness: Propositional Theory, Imagery Theory and Dual-coding Theory。

(2.1) Propositional Theory

A proposition is a conceptual structure that expresses the relationship between objects. A proposition must conform to the following rules: it must be abstract; it must be associated with a true value; it must conform to certain formal rules. According to propositional theory, the spatial coding is like the following single sentence: “Oklahoma is north of Texas.” The key to propositional theory is that its proposition is only coding Abstract meaning, not the natural characteristics of information。

(2.2) Image Theory

Image theory holds that image is the key component of spatial cognition. Its theory is based on the metaphor of a picture, which holds that individuals perceive and process spatial information, and then organize it into a simpler and more orderly forms. This information is remembered and can be rearranged to generate images as needed。

(2.3) Double coding theory

Dual coding theory holds that linguistic and visual information is processed independently, but related processing systems are interconnected. An image system organizes various simple images to form a hierarchical structure and can output them in a spatial form, while a language system processes all kinds of non-visual information in parallel and organizes them into a higher level and continuous structure。

Geographic information system is information processing system, that is, input information, encode, store memory, make decisions and output results. This is why the process of environmental information flow in the human brain is simulated and replicated by GIS. Of course, the purpose of cognition is to solve problems, that is, to find solutions to problems. Cognitive operations include conventional problem solving and creative problem solving。

Environmental Mapping and Model

Environmental image can be regarded as a stable concept of thinking that has been learned. It summarizes the ability of individuals to understand, evaluate and choose the environment. It is very important to understand what kind of information the brain processes and uses in the investigation and study of the interaction between anyone and the environment. The relationship between human and environment is shown in Figure 2-4。


Fig. 14 Diagram of the interaction between human beings and the environment

In environmental mapping studies,how do you extract information that is meaningful to large-scale environment from an individual? How to present this information in order to clarify the scope and extent of individual cognition? How to analyze this information? The most common method is to draw a sketch describing the environmental elements, and to provide information by describing the sequence of environmental elements, the relationship and difference between elements, the type of image, the details and the change of scale, that is, to construct a model. In scientific research, models are often used as substitutes or simulators for real objects, and there is a certain degree of consistency or similarity between them and the objects being studied: conclusions and inferences obtained by models can be used on real objects. There are many kinds of representation models used in geography, such as various maps, aerospace remote sensing images, statistical charts, profiles, etc. But maps are the most common and important models in geoscience. From the characteristics and essence of the model, the map is the image/symbol/generalization model of the objective world. A single map is a model to simulate some aspect of objective reality, while a series of maps and atlases belong to a high-level model, i.e. the model of geographical system. They simulate the overall nature and socio-economic elements, reflecting the interrelationship, interaction, analytical characteristics and comprehensive effects, current situation and future development trend of these elements, as well as the complexity they form. Functional characteristics of giant systems, etc。

Map Cognitive Model

Map cognitive model can be divided into the cognitive model of map compiler and designer and the cognitive model of map user (Figure 2-5 and Figure 2-6)。


Fig. 15 Map compiler’s cognitive model


Fig. 16 Map user’s cognitive model

The cartographer’s cognitive model emphasizes the recognition of the things and phenomena expressed as well as the perception of the expression of the expressed content. The purpose of cartographer’s cognition is to guide cartographers in selecting the most important cartographic content and the most appropriate form of expression to efficiently transmit spatial information (Fig. 2-7)。

Map user’s cognition is based on the existing map, combining with the reader’s own spatial knowledge and background, to complete the cognition of map objects, so as to indirectly achieve the purpose of recognizing the objective world。


Fig. 17 Mapping activity process

Scientific Cognition of Geographical Objects

Geographic cognition is a subsystem in the process of geographic information transmission. It focuses on psychological perception and analysis. Cognitors not only perceive the obvious information on the map but also excavate the potential information. They not only detect, identify or distinguish information, but also actively interpret information to form an overall understanding of the objective world. From the geographic cognition of cartographers when compiling maps to the geographic cognition of users when reading maps, the whole process reflects the characteristics of people’s understanding of geographical topics from shallow to deep. Because the transmission process of geographic information from original cartographic data to maps and then to new maps is exactly the spiral ascending process of people’s cognitive depth of geographic things. Geographic cognition is not only the basis of geographical model, but also the basis of cartographic generalization。

On the basis of geographic cognition, the real world information is abstracted and generalized to form a model in geographic information system, which shows the classification, classification and spatial pattern of geographic elements in a certain scale. Map model itself is a process of unity of subjectivity and objectivity. GIS experts not only comprehensively and comprehensively analyze and understand the geographical environment, but also include acceptance or recognition of some objective simulation standards and norms。

In addition, geographical cognition runs through the whole process of cartographic generalization. Specifically, it manifests itself in the stage of map design. It is guided by the knowledge of the system function, hierarchical structure and the combination of various elements of geographical environment acquired from geographical cognition on the concept of generalization principles, contents, classification and grading indicators of cartography. In the stage of map compilation, when dealing with the elements or figures that meet the generalization criteria, we can further understand the control and guidance role of geo-cognition in the selection of map elements, the generalization of quantity and quality, and the simplification of graphics, so that we can have a good idea of the control and guidance of geo-cognition, and operate correctly, so as not to misunderstand the generalization criteria and rules。

Map is the Image of the Objective World-Symbol-Summary Model

Map is the image model of the objective world

The main difference and advantage between maps and other geoscience models is that they are vivid and can give a complete, clear and intuitive graphic description and description of the actual objects. “A map is visual representations of the spatial relationship and spatial form of the surface。

Map is the Symbolic Model of the Object World

Another distinguishing feature of maps from many other graphic models is that they use specially designed and pre-defined symbols to reflect objects, phenomena and geographical processes, and to represent their location, quality and quantitative characteristics. The combination of various symbols forms a map image, and the collection of various map images forms a complete map graph. The role of map symbols is not limited to the transmission of information. They are also powerful tools for recording knowledge, stereotyping and systematizing knowledge。

Map is a generalized model of the objective world

Map is not a complete reproduction of objective objects, but a model which is “filtered”, generalized and abstracted by the brain and hands of the cartographers. It is the result of a series of complicated scientific thinking and creative work for cartographers to comprehend, synthetically analyze and abstractly generalize the features, such as choosing or rejecting them, simplifying graphics, generalizing quantity and quality, coordinating them, and exaggerating them. Therefore, map generalization of cartographic objects is one of the most important features of maps as an objective and practical model。

  • 1 Geographical Cognition of the Real World
  • 2. The abstraction of the real world
  • 3. Bit world
  • 1. Data meaning and data type
  • 2. Measurement scale of data
  • 3. GIS data quality
  • 1. Map digitization
  • 2. Processing of spatial data entry
  • 1. Computer network technology
  • 2. Distributed geographic information system
  • 3. WebGIS - World Wide Web Geographic Information System
  • 1. Socialization of GIS
  • 2. Other problems of GIS socialization
  • 3. The impact of society on the development of GIS

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