Two-year-old children interpret abstract, purely geometric maps


Address for correspondence: Nathan Winkler-Rhoades, MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 77 Massachusetts Ave. 46-4005, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA; e-mail:


In two experiments, 2.5-year-old children spontaneously used geometric information from 2D maps to locate objects in a 3D surface layout, without instruction or feedback. Children related maps to their corresponding layouts even though the maps differed from the layouts in size, mobility, orientation, dimensionality, and perspective, and even when they did not depict the target objects directly. Early in development, therefore, children are capable of noting the referential function of strikingly abstract visual representations.