This is a seek for hints or references. Feel free to delete the question if it is not suitable to the rules in here.

I have heard people saying that our inner spacial perception is an important foundation for our ability to think. So if we are standing upright, the mere awareness that our hands "are below our head" and "our feet are below our hands", all orientation like this is more important for our thinking than it would seem first.

Further I have heard that there exists some sort of illness or disability, where the proprioception is somehow distorted or blocked, and this allegedly is affecting the thinking power. People who could think, calculate, conclude etc in a normal way, cannot do so any longer because their spacial perception/proprioception is somehow reduced.

A prominent person who is a counter example for this connection between proprioception and thinking could be Stephen Hawking. A prominent pro argument for the connection could be the process of training pilots in a centrifuge, thinking while suffering a lot of G.

My question is:

Can somebody tell me the right terms or keywords so that I can find literature about the mentioned connection? My search shows very wide results between mathematical concepts, mental mapping, spacial orientation and more, but I am looking for the basic relation between muscles, nerves, proprioception and clear conceptional thinking. Or does somebody even now a paper which examines this connection?


1 Answer 1


Two major terms:

"Spatial Representation":

of pitch height (lower/higher):


emotions (down/up):


"Spatial Analogy": https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5256459/

Some papers argue that even time has strong spatial representation in it: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001002770700087X

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much for this collection of papers. This is the information base I was hoping for. As I play the transverse flute, I feel specially inspired by the pitch handling. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2019 at 8:55

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