Mapping temporal constructs: actions reveal that time is a place

Lynden Miles, Ewa Betka, Louise F. Pendry, C. Neil Macrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Many languages employ metaphors that associate temporal constructs with locations in space (e.g., back in the old days). However, whether such space–time mappings extend beyond the linguistic domain has received little empirical attention. Noting that motor action represents a pathway through which the integration of spatial and temporal information can be revealed, the current work examined the dynamics of hand movements during a time-classification task. Results revealed that when participants were instructed to process information pertaining to the past (or future), their movements were drawn towards the left (or right). This affirms that spatiotemporal processing is grounded in the sensory-motor systems that regulate human movement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2113-2119
Number of pages7
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • spatiotemporal mapping
  • cognitive dynamics
  • movement


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