Implicit Spatial Length Modulates Time Estimates, But Not Vice Versa

  • Roberto Bottini
  • Daniel Casasanto
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6222)


How are space and time represented in the human mind? Here we evaluate two theoretical proposals, one suggesting a symmetric relationship between space and time (ATOM theory) and the other an asymmetric relationship (metaphor theory). In Experiment 1, Dutch-speakers saw 7-letter nouns that named concrete objects of various spatial lengths (tr. pencil, bench, footpath) and estimated how much time they remained on the screen. In Experiment 2, participants saw nouns naming temporal events of various durations (tr. blink, party, season) and estimated the words’ spatial length. Nouns that named short objects were judged to remain on the screen for a shorter time, and nouns that named longer objects to remain for a longer time. By contrast, variations in the duration of the event nouns’ referents had no effect on judgments of the words’ spatial length. This asymmetric pattern of cross-dimensional interference supports metaphor theory and challenges ATOM.


ATOM Metaphor Psychophysics Space Time 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Bottini
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniel Casasanto
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Human SciencesUniversity of BergamoBergamo
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for PsycholinguisticsNeurobiology of Language GroupNijmegen
  3. 3.Donders Center for Brain, Cognition, and BehaviorRadboud UniversityNijmegen

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