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ERIC Number: EJ890835
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Aug
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
The Long and the Short of It: On the Nature and Origin of Functional Overlap between Representations of Space and Time
Srinivasan, Mahesh; Carey, Susan
Cognition, v116 n2 p217-241 Aug 2010
When we describe time, we often use the language of space ("The movie was long"; "The deadline is approaching"). Experiments 1-3 asked whether--as patterns in language suggest--a structural similarity between representations of spatial length and temporal duration is easier to access than one between length and other dimensions of experience, such as loudness. Adult participants were shown pairings of lines of different length with tones of different duration (Experiment 1) or tones of different loudness (Experiment 2). The length of the lines and duration or loudness of the tones was either positively or negatively correlated. Participants were better able to bind particular lengths and durations when they were positively correlated than when they were not, a pattern not observed for pairings of lengths and tone amplitudes, even after controlling for the presence of visual cues to duration in Experiment 1 (Experiment 3). This suggests that representations of length and duration may functionally overlap to a greater extent than representations of length and loudness. Experiments 4 and 5 asked whether experience with and mastery of words like "long" and "short"--which can flexibly refer to both space and time--itself creates this privileged relationship. Nine-month-old infants, like adults, were better able to bind representations of particular lengths and durations when these were positively correlated (Experiment 4), and failed to show this pattern for pairings of lengths and tone amplitudes (Experiment 5). We conclude that the functional overlap between representations of length and duration does not result from a metaphoric construction processes mediated by learning to flexibly use words such as "long" and "short". We suggest instead that it may reflect an evolutionary recycling of spatial representations for more general purposes. (Contains 1 table and 9 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A