Personal tools
You are here: Home Workshops WS-3: Spatial Language in Context

Workshop 3: Spatial Language in Context

Spatial Language in Context:

Computational and Theoretical Approaches to Situation Specific Meaning



Workshop Description

As humans, we are capable of thinking and talking about space in more than one way, and the specific way in which we think and talk at any given moment in time is reliant on the context of the situation we find ourselves in. In maths and architecture, space is often treated as purely geometric, with shapes, volumes, and vectors existing purely without action or purpose. Once physical objects become involved, the way in which we think and talk about space increases, taking into account task goals, actions and functions (e.g., Coventry & Garrod, 2004). Furthermore, past history of talking and conceptualising specific situations and objects needs to be taken into account, including how interlocutors talk and interact with those situations.

In order to deal with context/past history adequately, spatial language and spatial cognition research needs to consider models of how this may be done. For example, within the framework of embodied cognition, concepts are “situated”, encapsulating multimodal time-convergent representations that support flexible conceptualisation of the world (e.g., Barsalou, 2003). From a modelling perspective, dynamic systems theory represents one means of putting multiple constraints together on-line in a time dependent fashion (see Smith & Thelen, 2003 for a brief review). For instance, a series of elegant experiments together with an associated DST model, has changed the way in which infant perseverative reaching behaviour (the A-not-B error) is understood over time (see for example, Thelen, Schöner, Scheier, & Smith, 2001).



The goal of this workshop is to further the conversation on investigations into spatial language in context, and models that allow for context. Work which considers the situation in which we think and talk about space, including the prior actions and perceptions of participants, and which allows for the effect of an interlocutor’s speech and actions to modify our way of talking, will be sought. Models which also consider these effects can only add to the usefulness of the workshop, and dynamic systems theory, neural models, and formal mathematical models have all been produced which are capable of considering the context of the cognition which they are modelling.



Possible submission topics, but not limited to:

  • Dynamic systems models of spatial language
  • The effects of age, experience or prior usage on spatial language
  • Interlocutor effects in spatial language
  • Variation in spatial language use through development
  • Connectionist models of context in spatial language
  • Spatial language development over time
  • Priming of reference frames in spatial language usage
  • Object size, function, or position effects on spatial language production
  • Knowledge of interlocutor as a determinant of spatial language production
  • Goal directed descriptions of route directions


Important Dates

Submission of abstracts:                May 31st , 2008

Notification of Acceptance:            June 15th, 2008

Workshop:                                   September 19th, 2008


Submission details

Submission of two page extended abstracts should be sent to Submission of two page extended abstracts should be sent to by the 31st of May. All papers accepted will be presented as 30 minute talks. All submissions will be reviewed by the programme committee. Abstracts must be in lncs format, the details for which can be found at



Kenny Coventry, Cognition and Communication research centre, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.

Ronan O’Ceallaigh, Cognition and Communication research centre, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK.


Programme Committee:




Barsalou, L. W. (2003). Situated simulation in the human conceptual system. Language and Cognitive Processes, 18, 513-562.

Coventry, K. R., & Garrod, S. C. (2004). Saying, seeing and acting. The psychological semantics of spatial prepositions. Essays in Cognitive Psychology Series. Psychology Press. Hove and New York.

Thelen, E., Schöner, G., Scheier, C., & and Smith, L. B. (2000) The Dynamics of Embodiment: A Field Theory of Infant Perseverative Reaching. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 1-34.

Document Actions