Human Spatial Relational Reasoning: Processing Demands, Representations, and Cognitive Model
Empirical findings indicate that humans draw infer- ences about spatial arrangements by constructing and manipulating mental models which are internal representations of objects and relations in spatial working memory. Central to the Mental Model Theory (MMT), is the assumption that the human reasoning process can be divided into three phases: (i) Mental model construction, (ii) model inspection, and (iii) model validation. The MMT can be formalized with respect to a computational model, connecting the reasoning process to operations on mental model representations. In this respect a computational model has been implemented in the cognitive architecture ACT-R capable of explaining human reasoning difficulty by the number of model operations. The presented ACT-R model allows simulation of psychological findings about spatial reasoning problems from a previous study that investigated conventional behavioral data such as response times and error rates in the context of certain mental model construction principles.