CRL Newsletter

Vol. 25, No. 1

April 2013


PDF Technical Report

Investigating Spatial Axis Recruitment in Temporal Reckoning Through Acoustic Stimuli and Non-Spatial Responses

Walker, E.J.1, Bergen, B.K.1, & Nuñez, R.1

1 Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA

We talk about time using spatial terms ("ahead", "behind") and spatial gestures (front-back, left-right). Experimental investigation of such space-to-time mappings has focused primarily on the space in front of the participant, likely driven by the convenience of screen presentation and button responses. This has had two consequences: the disregard of the space behind the participant (exploited in language and gesture) and the creation of potential task demands produced by the spatialized manual button-presses. We present a new paradigm that addresses these issues. Participants, responding vocally, made temporal judgments about deictic (past, future) or sequential (earlier, later) relationships presented auditorily along a full front-back or left-right axis. Results involving the left-right axis replicated previous work. Participants mapped past and earlier judgments onto the left and future and later judgments to the right. Surprisingly, deictic judgments did not use the front-back axis but sequential judgments did, in a novel way. Participants mapped earlier judgments onto the space in front of them and later judgments onto the space behind them, which, to our knowledge has never been demonstrated. These findings suggest that different time concepts recruit space differently, mediated by meaning, stimulus modality and response mode.


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