Research

Do you know that feeling when you realize that some research was commissioned by a company whose performance would depend on the research results? This is exactly the thing we do not like. We like when independent institutions not affiliated with a company find scientific proof or refutation of ideas. We have empirical evidence that SpatialNote provides substantial improvement in information understanding and recall. We see many ideas and theories in cognitive sciences explaining or predicting these benefits, with primary strong points of SpatialNote being related to spatial cognition with multiple spatial systems turned on by our solution during information processing. These spatial phenomena are the basis for most of the primary concepts people have in languages, and are metaphorically used for abstract concepts as well. Most of the widespread means and software to process information do not provide a way to use spatial and embodied cognition to the level possible with SpatialNote.

We invite those related to academia and interested in the topic to form their own opinions, ideally by running experiments. Below we list some ideas that we believe might be worth studying. Alternatively, SpatialNote provides an easy way to provide multiple experiments related to cognition, thinking processes, memory, spatial awareness, etc. Human history knows multiple examples when new easy-to-use instruments, e.g. micro- or telescopes, opened new possibilities of scientific exploration. SpatialNote provides an easy-to-use instrument that allows to study many topics cognitive scientists are interested in.

Research ideas

We have a couple of ideas for research that we are especially interested in, though other options could be of interest as well.

Method of Loci (Mind Palace) VS SpatialNote

Method of Loci (or Mind Palce) is a mnemonics method known for thousands of years for its efficiency - read more. It is reported that up to 90% of mnemonics competition champions are using it. The major role in it is believed to be played by the spatial awareness and related brain structures. There have also been studies that show that virtual environments (palaces or loci) demonstrate equivalent results with conventional ones.

We believe that we are making a step further at improving this method. There are several recognized major spatial reference frames people use: egocentric(first person) reference frame, object reference frame, topological reference frame and geocentric one.

Method of loci makes good use of topological and object reference frames. Basically its essence is applying objects (primarily images) to places (loci). Those who become “power users” of this method memorize multiple palaces or topological maps, as well as create and learn object vocabularies in advance, especially if they want to memorize abstract concept, e.g. numbers.

Users of SpatialNote can also use these reference frames. Facets of cubes are used as placeholders for objects, which can be texts, images, etc. Topological aspect is provided by a fractal 3D structure with several mechanism enforcing orientation in it - signs of cardinal directions on each facets, ease of navigation (when a person remembers his moves and turns, similar to navigating in a virtual palace) and outside 3D view of the fractal structure.

Two other reference frames, egocentric and geocentric, are hardly used in the mind palace/method of loci.

Geocentric reference frame is enforced in SpatialNote by intuitive up&down orientation of information, as if a viewer is subject to gravity and is not freely rotating as in zero gravity. Cardinal signs also create geocentric reference frame. And 3D fractal structure helps again, providing the center.

Most important difference is SpatialNote’s extensive use of egocentric reference frame which is only marginally present in the method of loci. When one perceives himself as a reference frame, primary directions of up/down, left/right, forward/backwards transform into something that is above or below, to the left or to the right, in front of or behind. All the objects that are located in placeholders in those directions start an interplay with each other and the center - the person who placed himself into. This results in substantial increase of the number of implicit and explicit relationships and associations. Multiple layers of cognition and multiple metaphors in language that are organized in similar manner come into play. Only some of the possible examples are: people tend to put on top big or light things, or those that dominate, guide or observe; down - heavy or reliable, solid, things like base or foundation; many people perceive left as past, or beginning, sometimes as objects to work on; right is often used for future, an object or an instrument; front is often associated with the present, or some goals, as well as objects or sometimes obstacles; what is behind is often a cause, sometimes the past, something that gives energy, pushes forwards, an origin.

This could also be relationships of who, what, where, why, etc., declensions (in some languages), logical relationships, etc. Another important component is the fact that in an egocentric view/reference frame with six primary directions you get three pairs of oppositions. People often try to locate concepts and ideas in such a way that these oppositions come into play as well.

All the effects mentioned above (as well as some that we might not be aware of) sum up and most probably create emergent qualities that we strongly believe result in more substantial memory improvement than the method of loci. Furthermore, our approach results in a higher comprehension level.

We would really appreciate your help to scientifically (dis)validate our hypothesis.

 

Conventional Mind Maps VS SpatialNote

There have been reports of studying memory improvements of conventional mind mapping techniques. Typically the reported results show 5-15% memory/recall improvement, with some studies claiming up to 30%. We think that results of such magnitude is something that gives only a marginal improvement that most people cannot really feel and appreciate much.

Results related to memory shown by experienced users of method of loci are substantially more noticeable.

Even though mind-mapping is a much more limited concept than what we offer in SpatialNote, one of the metaphors for SpatialNote could be a 3D mind mapping tool. And that is why we would be really interested to compare conventional “flat” mind-mapping and a 3D spatial one.

Human memory and cognition depend on spatial processing mechanisms to a very substantial degree. Above (in SpatialNote vs Method of Loci section) we described primary spatial reference frames people use.

Most of those four spatial reference frames will not be playing any role in understand and remembering information while creating conventional mind maps. Only the object-centric reference frame can help to a certain, very limited degree. Here is why.

When people use paper, whiteboards or other non-digital assisted ways to mindmap, they tend to keep the original locations of ideas they organize, as it is not very handy to change them. Primary ideas located next to the central one get some benefits of spatial relationships, as the central one is used as the central object reference. Ideas that are more distant from the center are typically depicted using a regular tree structure, which already does not really have even the flat above/below, to the left or to the right references between the parent & child ideas.

When it comes to mind-mapping software, even this tiny layer of spatial cognition is broken by most tools, as most of the solutions change the locations of topics on-the-fly as soon as a new idea is added, some change is made, or due to the way the navigation in the software is organized.

That is why mind mapping basically relies on verbal mechanisms of categorization and parent/child relationships.

SpatialNote has the verbal and parent/child component too, but in addition to that it relies on multiple spatial cognition mechanisms, as well as provides more place for additional supporting info for each idea to make it more memorable.

 

Based on empirical evidence and theoretical justifications, SpatialNote drastically outperforms mind-mapping in the areas of understanding and memorization.

We would really appreciate your help to scientifically (dis)validate our claims.

 

Contact Us

Please get in touch with us if you are in academia and interested in the topic, so that we could work with you on explaining how we use the solution to get the maximum out of it. We would also be glad to assist you with other matters related to research, like providing access to the solution, collecting some statistics, etc. Our headquarters is located in Boston, MA, allowing us to meet in person with those researchers and scholars who are also located in Greater Boston Area. We’ll be glad to collaborate with you if you are located in other places as well.

Related research

There is substantial amount of research related to spatial cognition, thinking, reasoning and memory. Here are just a few links related to what we discussed above.

Virtual vs conventional environments with the Method of Loci - read more

 Data Mountain: Using Spatial Memory for Document Management - read more

Toi, H (2009). Research on how mind map improves memory. Paper presented at the International Conference on Thinking, Kuala Lumpur, 22nd to 26th June 2009.