Mandler, Jean M. (2010).
The spatial foundation of the conceptual system. Language and Cognition, 2, 21-44


This article proposes that the representation of concepts in infancy is
in the form of spatial image-schemas. A mechanism that simplifies
spatial information is described along with a small set of spatial
primitives that are sufficient to account for the conceptualizations
that preverbal infants use to interpret objects and events. This early
system is important to understand because it organizes the adult
conceptual system of objects and events and remains its core. With
development, the system becomes enriched by language in several ways,
and also by means of analogical extension to nonspatial information.
Nonspatial bodily information, such as feelings of force and motor
activity, is also added, but remains secondary. It becomes associated
with spatial representations, but except for its spatial aspects is
represented in a more inchoate and less accessible fashion.

Full article PDF format