Knowledge Across Reference Frames: Cognitive Maps and Image Spaces

In human and non-human animals, conceptual knowledge is partially organized according to low-dimensional geometries that rely on brain structures and computations involved in spatial representations. Recently, two separate lines of research have investigated cognitive maps, that are associated with the hippocampal formation and are similar to world-centered representations of the environment, and image spaces, that are associated with the parietal cortex and are similar to self-centered spatial relationships. We review evidence supporting cognitive maps and image spaces, and we propose a hippocampal–parietal network that can account for the organization and retrieval of knowledge across multiple reference frames. We also suggest that cognitive maps and image spaces may be two manifestations of a more general propensity of the mind to create low-dimensional internal models.

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