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Abstract

Several studies suggest that serial order in working memory (WM) is grounded on space. For a list of ordered items held in WM, items at the beginning of the list are associated with the left side of space and items at the end of the list with the right side. This suggests that maintaining items in verbal working memory is performed in strong analogy to writing these items down on a physical whiteboard for later consultation (The Mental Whiteboard Hypothesis). What drives this spatial mapping of ordered series in WM remains poorly understood. In the present study we tested whether visual experience is instrumental in establishing the link between serial order in working memory and spatial processing. We tested early blind, late blind and sighted individuals in an auditory WM task. Replicating previous studies, left-key responses were faster for early items in the list whereas later items facilitated right-key responses in the sighted group. The same effect was observed in late blind individuals. In contrast, early blind participants did not show any association between space and serial position in WM. These results suggest that early visual experience plays a critical role in linking ordered items in WM and spatial representations. The analogical spatial structure of WM may depend in part on the actual experience of using spatially organized devices (e.g. notes, whiteboards) to offload working memory. These practices are largely precluded to early blind individuals, who instead rely to mnemonic devices that are less spatially organized (e.g. recordings, vocal notes). The way we habitually organize information in the external world may bias the way we organize information in our working memory.

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... Accordingly, verbal items presented earlier in a list are typically responded to faster with the left hand, whereas items at the end of the list are typically responded to faster with the right hand (van Dijck and Fias, 2011; see also Rinaldi et al., 2015a). Bottini et al. (2016) have recently investigated the extent to which visual experience is critical in driving the spatial mapping of serial verbal information in WM. In their study, participants had to memorize a list of words (i.e., exemplars of fruits and vegetables) and then perform a go/no-go classification task, responding only to the memorized words with a left/right key press. ...
... In striking contrast, no association was found between left/right responses and the order in which the words were memorized in early blind participants, suggesting that early visual experience plays a critical role in setting the spatial representation of verbal information in WM (see Fig. 1). According to Bottini et al. (2016), the absence of a spatial representation of serial order in early blind individuals may depend on the limited use of external memory aids (e.g., lists, telephone numbers, schedules or diagrams) that may reinforce a left-to-right mapping of the information to be stored. ...
... The relevance of the temporal dimension may be a critical aspect to consider. In the fruitvegetable classification task used by Bottini et al. (2016), serial order information was task irrelevant. In turn, the classification of words with reference to the past or the future (Bottini et al., 2015) implied an explicit temporal judgment that likely boosted the association between response side and time, possibly leading participants to compare the target word to the center of the mental time line (i.e., the moment "now" or "deictic" center, see Núñez and Cooperrider, 2013). ...
Article
The spatial representation of numerical and temporal information is thought to be rooted in our multisensory experiences. Accordingly, we may expect visual or auditory deprivation to affect the way we represent numerical magnitude and time spatially. Here, we systematically review recent findings on how blind and deaf individuals represent abstract concepts such as magnitude and time (e.g., past/future, serial order of events) in a spatial format. Interestingly, available evidence suggests that sensory deprivation does not prevent the spatial “re-mapping” of abstract information, but differences compared to normally sighted and hearing individuals may emerge depending on the specific dimension considered (i.e., numerical magnitude, time as past/future, serial order). Herein we discuss how the study of sensory deprived populations may shed light on the specific, and possibly distinct, mechanisms subserving the spatial representation of these concepts. Furthermore, we pinpoint unresolved issues that need to be addressed by future studies to grasp a full understanding of the spatial representation of abstract information associated with visual and auditory deprivation.
... Working memory can also be tested via the tactile modality, and here too there exist inconsistencies in the literature, as certain studies show superior or equal performance by people with blindness compared to sighted controls [17,[22][23][24], while others show deficiencies [22,[25][26][27]. In terms of deductive reasoning, the same contradictions exist since certain findings indicate that blind individuals perform worst on deductive reasoning tasks compared to sighted controls [28][29][30], yet others indicate that they perform equally well or better than controls [31][32][33][34][35]. ...
... Visual deprivation from birth affects the types of strategies employed [36] and may even confer supranormal abilities to people who are CB in terms of working memory [37], making them immune to certain impedance effects of irrelevant visual information for mental imagery tasks [28]. Comparing these abilities between individuals with CB to those with late-onset blindness (LB) has yielded inconsistent findings [31,33,35,[38][39][40]. Two factors can account for this advantage. ...
Article
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Deductive reasoning and working memory are integral parts of executive functioning and are important skills for blind people in everyday life. Despite the importance of these skills, the influence of visual experience on reasoning and working memory skills, as well as on the relationship between these, is unknown. In this study, fifteen participants with congenital blindness (CB), fifteen with late blindness (LB), fifteen sighted blindfolded controls (SbfC), and fifteen sighted participants performed two tasks of deductive reasoning and two of working memory. We found that while the CB and LB participants did not differ in their deductive reasoning abilities, the CB group performed worse than the sighted controls, and the LB group performed better than the SbfC group. Those with CB outperformed all the other groups in both of the working memory tests. Working memory is associated with deductive reasoning in all three visually impaired groups, but not in the sighted group. These findings suggest that deductive reasoning is not a uniform skill, and that it is associated with visual impairment onset, the level of reasoning difficulty, and the degree of working memory load.
... The "spatialization" of novel WM sequences has inspired the formulation of the mental whiteboard hypothesis: when confronted with an arbitrary sequence of items, the (Western) brain mentally organizes them from left to right within an internal space (the mental whiteboard) such that spatial attention controls later search and selection (Abrahamse, van Dijck, & Fias, 2017;Abrahamse, van Dijck, Majerus, & Fias, 2014). The interaction between serial order and spatial processing for novel sequences has now been replicated across different tasks and stimuli (e.g., Antoine, Ranzini, Gebuis, van Dijck, & Gevers, 2017;Bottini, Mattioni, & Collignon, 2016;Ginsburg, Archambeau, van Dijck, Chetail, & Gevers, 2017;Guida, Leroux, Lavielle-Guida, & Noël, 2016;Rinaldi, Brugger, Bockisch, Bertolini, & Girelli, 2015;van Dijck, Abrahamse, Acar, Ketels, & Fias, 2014;van Dijck, Abrahamse, Majerus, & Fias, 2013). However, the origin of its left-to-right organization remains unknown. ...
... However, these results are not in accordance with recent findings The difference between the accuracy scores was globally significant, F(2, 56) = 4.94, p = .01, but when tested two by two, only the Western literates and Arabic illiterates differed significantly, t(38) = 3.29, p = .002. 4 Both quadratic (e.g., Bottini et al., 2016;Guida et al., 2016) and linear (e.g., van Dijck & Fias, 2011;van Dijck et al., 2013) trends are found in the spatialization literature. Based on Sternberg's work (e.g., Sternberg, 1975Sternberg, , 2016, linear trends are often attributed to serial scanning strategies (van Dijck & Fias, 2011;van Dijck et al., 2013). ...
... When analysing right-hand reaction times minus lefthand reaction times as a function of the position in the sequence that was probed, results showed that this difference decreased (thus in favour of the right hand) when progressing toward the last positions. This pattern of interaction is interpreted as a left to right spatialisation (Bottini et al., 2016;Ginsburg et al., 2014Ginsburg et al., , 2017Guida et al., 2018van Dijck & Fias, 2011; for a review see Guida & Campitelli, 2019), that is, participants encode the memoranda along an horizontal line with the initial items being associated with left and the last items being associated with right. ...
... Participants carried out 2 familiarisation sets of 6 sequences of five one-digit numbers and 2 test sets of 27 sequences of five one-digit numbers. Unlike Experiment 1, we use sequences of 5 items because the SPoARC paradigm is usually applied to sequences of 4 or 5 items (Bottini et al., 2016;Ginsburg et al., 2014Ginsburg et al., , 2017Rinaldi et al., 2015;van Dijck & Fias, 2011; for a review see Guida & Campitelli, 2019). Larger sequences could be problematic for this paradigm (Guida et al., 2018). ...
Article
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When sequences of digits are visually presented within a numerical keypad on a screen, memory span increases, this effect was named visuospatial bootstrapping. The aim of the first experiment was to know if this effect could emerge without presenting a keypad on the screen. For this purpose, a three-phase experiment was designed. During phase 1, the immediate serial recall of two groups of participants was compared (pre-training): the first group saw sequences of one-digit numbers displayed on a screen within a keypad (the keypad group) whereas the second group heard the (same) sequences (the auditive group). During phase 2, all participants underwent a training session to help them visualize in their mind a keypad. Finally, in the third phase, participants were tested again with an immediate serial recall task (post-training). Results showed that both groups had comparable performance in post-training indicating that the visuospatial bootstrapping could be obtained without displaying a numerical keypad. The second experiment also involved a keypad group and an auditive group and was designed to investigate their spatial representation. Results showed that both groups spatialised the digits following the keypad spatial configuration: digits 1-4-7 were associated to left, 2-5-8 to middle and 3-6-9 to right.
... This observation is called the Ordinal Position Effect (OPE) and has been replicated across various experimental settings (e.g., refs. [6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]. Accordingly, the mental whiteboard hypothesis was proposed: When confronted with the challenge of serial order in (non-spatial) WM, our cognitive system spontaneously generates an internal spatial template to which memoranda are bound in a systematic fashion, such that the resulting spatial configuration reflects their serial order 15,16 . ...
... We believe, however, that these findings relate to a mechanism that is qualitatively different from serial order WM which we investigated here with the OPE. Our main argument is that the OPE is based on an allocentric coding of space 6,26,27 , whereas spatial competence in terms of allocentric codes only emerges around 22 months of age 28 . Moreover, in previous work we have framed the OPE in terms (hippocampaldependent) item-space binding (i.e., coding serial order across items by binding the items to systematically arranged, spatially defined position markers 15,16 ), a mechanism recycled from the brain's systems for mnemonic coding of external space. ...
Article
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The ability to memorize arbitrary sequences contributes to cognitive faculties like language and mathematics. Research suggests that in literate adults, serial order in verbal working memory (WM) is grounded in spatial attention and is mentally organized according to our reading habits, i.e. from left-to-right in Western cultures. Currently, it is unknown whether spatialization is a consequence of literacy, or whether the ability already exists early in life but is shaped by literacy in 'calibrating' the initial individual differences in the orientation of spatial coding. Here, we investigated the spatial coding of serial order in WM in 5-year old children who did not yet enter formal literacy education. At the group-level, no systematic spatial coding was observed. To investigate whether this absence was due to subjects with reliable but opposing effects, we determined the prevalence of spatial coding at the individual level. This analysis revealed that 36% of the children systematically associated serial order to space, with approximately half of them coding from left-to-right and the rest from right-to-left. These results indicate that a subgroup of pre-literate children associate serial order with space and suggest that reading and writing experience 'calibrates' the orientation of spatial coding with our reading habits.
... For the purposes of this study, we defined "early blind" as documented residual vision no greater than light perception and/or hand motion acquired prior to the age of three (i.e. prior to the recall of visual memories and the development of high level language function; see [58,59]). While the majority of participants had diagnoses that could be considered as a "congenital" cause, we relied on documented clinical evidence of profound blindness based on a structured and functional assessment. ...
Article
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In the setting of profound ocular blindness, numerous lines of evidence demonstrate the existence of dramatic anatomical and functional changes within the brain. However, previous studies based on a variety of distinct measures have often provided inconsistent findings. To help reconcile this issue, we used a multimodal magnetic resonance (MR)-based imaging approach to provide complementary structural and functional information regarding this neuroplastic reorganization. This included gray matter structural morphometry, high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) of white matter connectivity and integrity, and resting state functional connectivity MRI (rsfcMRI) analysis. When comparing the brains of early blind individuals to sighted controls, we found evidence of co-occurring decreases in cortical volume and cortical thickness within visual processing areas of the occipital and temporal cortices respectively. Increases in cortical volume in the early blind were evident within regions of parietal cortex. Investigating white matter connections using HARDI revealed patterns of increased and decreased connectivity when comparing both groups. In the blind, increased white matter connectivity (indexed by increased fiber number) was predominantly left-lateralized, including between frontal and temporal areas implicated with language processing. Decreases in structural connectivity were evident involving frontal and somatosensory regions as well as between occipital and cingulate cortices. Differences in white matter integrity (as indexed by quantitative anisotropy, or QA) were also in general agreement with observed pattern changes in the number of white matter fibers. Analysis of resting state sequences showed evidence of both increased and decreased functional connectivity in the blind compared to sighted controls. Specifically, increased connectivity was evident between temporal and inferior frontal areas. Decreases in functional connectivity were observed between occipital and frontal and somatosensory-motor areas and between temporal (mainly fusiform and parahippocampus) and parietal, frontal, and other temporal areas. Correlations in white matter connectivity and functional connectivity observed between early blind and sighted controls showed an overall high degree of association. However, comparing the relative changes in white matter and functional connectivity between early blind and sighted controls did not show a significant correlation. In summary, these findings provide complimentary evidence, as well as highlight potential contradictions, regarding the nature of regional and large scale neuroplastic reorganization resulting from early onset blindness.
... The generalisation of WM spatialisation to open sets is important because the contrary would have undermined its explanatory power. Before our experiment we knew that WM spatialisation had been observed: (1) with STM (tasks just necessitating storage, Guida, Leroux, et al., 2016) and WM (tasks necessitating storage and processing, e.g., van Dijck & Fias, 2011) paradigms; (2) when order was irrelevant (Guida, Leroux, et al., 2016) or relevant for task completion (e.g., van Dijck & Fias, 2011); (3) with auditory (Guida, Leroux, et al., 2016) and visual presentations (e.g., van Dijck & Fias, 2011); (4) with verbal material (e.g., van Dijck & Fias, 2011) and with images (Ginsburg et al., 2017); (5) with an eye tracking device detecting spontaneous gaze position during a STM task (Rinaldi, Brugger, Bockisch, Bertolini, & Girelli, 2015); (6) with a line bisection task, which demonstrates that the association between space and position goes beyond binary/categorical (usually 2 press-keys) associations (Antoine, Ranzini, Gebuis, van Dijck, & Gevers, 2017); and (7) also with blind participants (Bottini, Mattioni, & Collignon, 2016). Closed sets and open sets can now be added to this list and WM spatialisation can indeed be thought of as a general phenomenon that can explain how order is coded in verbal WM as recently presented by Abrahamse et al. (2017). ...
Article
The SPoARC effect (Spatial Positional Associated Response Codes) has only been observed in working memory (WM) using closed sets. It is interpreted as showing that individuals spatialise to-be-remembered items in a left-to-right fashion, using spatialisation as context. Given that context is crucial for episodic memory (EM), we tested if this effect could be observed in EM by using 15-word lists taken from an open set. After each list, 30 probes were sequentially displayed to test recognition. The left/right-hand key assignment for yes/no answers was varied. No SPoARC effect was observed. However, as all previous SPoARC experiments had used short lists and closed sets, it was not possible to know if this absence of SPoARC was due to the open set feature or the length of the lists. A second experiment was thus run using open sets and short 5-word lists, which do not necessitate EM to be remembered. A SPoARC effect was observed indicating that Experiment 1 result was due to the involvement of supra-span lists and that SPoARC effects do not extend to EM with open sets. Experiment 2 also enabled us to generalise the SPoARC effect to open sets in WM for the first time.
... Moreover, past and future events seem to be mapped on a left (past) to right (future) spatial continuum, regardless of visual experience (Bottini, Crepaldi, Casasanto, Crollen, & Collignon, 2015;Santiago, Lupiãnez, Pérez, & Funes, 2007); although blindness may affect the mapping of past and future on the sagittal plane (Rinaldi, Vecchi, Fantino, Merabet, & Cattaneo, 2017). Furthermore, in verbal memory tasks (in which sighted individuals tend to organize information spatially), blind individuals may use preferentially alternative nonspatial strategies (Bottini, Mattioni, & Collignon, 2016). Specifically for pitch processing, a recent study reported a preferred association between tones increasing in pitch and upward tactile movements and tones decreasing in pitch and downward tactile movements in sighted individuals, supporting a pitch-space mapping, whereas blind individuals did not show any preferential association (Deroy et al., 2016). ...
Article
Converging evidence suggests that the perception of auditory pitch exhibits a characteristic spatial organization. This pitch–space association can be demonstrated experimentally by the Spatial Musical Association of Response Codes (SMARC) effect. This is characterized by faster response times when a low-positioned key is pressed in response to a low-pitched tone, and a high-positioned key is pressed in response to a high-pitched tone. To investigate whether the development of this pitch–space association is mediated by normal visual experience, we tested a group of early blind individuals on a task that required them to discriminate the timbre of different instrument sounds with varying pitch. Results revealed a comparable pattern in the SMARC effect in both blind participants and sighted controls, suggesting that the lack of prior visual experience does not prevent the development of an association between pitch height and vertical space.
... Since this study, several experiments (see Table 1 for an exhaustive list of experiments testing only the SPoARC or both the SPoARC and SNARC effects, ever since van Dijk & Fias's, 2011, initial study) have been conducted. The SPoARC effect has been observed (1) with short-term memory (STM) paradigms necessitating only storage (see second row of Fig. 1; e.g., Guida, Leroux, Lavielle-Guida, & Noël, 2016) and with WM paradigms necessitating storage and processing (e.g., (2) when order is relevant for the task completion (such as in the van Dijck & Fias, 2011, paradigm, in which participants have to recognize each sequence) or when order is irrelevant (i.e., without sequence recall or recognition; e.g., Guida, Leroux, et al., 2016); (3) with auditory (Guida, Leroux, et al., 2016) or visual input (e.g., ; (4) with verbal material (e.g., Ginsburg et al., 2014; or images (Ginsburg, Archambeau, van Dijck, Chetail, & Gevers, 2017); (5) with open (Guida, Carnet, et al., 2018) or closed sets (e.g., (6) with an eye-tracking device (Rinaldi, Brugger, Bockisch, Bertolini, & Girelli, 2015); (7) with a line bisection task (Antoine, Ranzini, Gebuis, ; (8) when testing noncongenitally blind people, but not with the congenitally blind 1 (Bottini, Mattioni, & Collignon, 2016); and (9) when testing Arabic literates, for whom the effect is reversed (Guida, Megreya, et al., 2018). Umiltà, Bonato, and Rusconi (2018) have recently categorized SPoARC experiments as testing spatiotemporal associations because, in Westerners, the early items of a sequence are linked to left and the late to right. ...
Article
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Two proposals have been put forward to account conjunctly for the SNARC (Spatial Numerical Association Response Codes) effect and the SPoARC (Spatial Positional Association Response Codes) effect: the working memory account and the dual account. Here, based on experimental and theoretical knowledge acquired in the field of expert memory, we propose an alternative account—named expertise account—that explains both effects through the acquisition and the use of knowledge structures (a generalization of “chunks”, “retrieval structures”, and “templates”), which have been extensively used in expert memory theory. These knowledge structures can be of two types: non-slotted schemas or slotted-schemas. We suggest that the SNARC effect can be explained via the use of nonslotted schemas and the SPoARC effect through slotted schemas. We conclude our article by presenting the broader implications of our framework for working memory in general, when considering knowledge structures.
... These results suggest that blind individuals may rely (more than sighted people) on a semantic code to retrieve perceptual similarities. This hypothesis is in line with studies showing a larger use of verbal knowledge (instead of a visuospatial code) in the blind population when retrieving information from memory (Bottini, Mattioni, & Collignon, 2016;Cattaneo et al., 2008). It is important to note that the activation of a semantic code, instead of a visual one, can account for the fact that similarity ratings of actions and colors were highly comparable between sighted and blind individuals, despite their different brain activation patterns. ...
Article
If conceptual retrieval is partially based on the simulation of sensorimotor experience, people with a different sensorimotor experience, such as congenitally blind people, should retrieve concepts in a different way. However, studies investigating the neural basis of several conceptual domains (e.g., actions, objects, places) showed a very limited impact of early visual deprivation. We approached this problem by investigating brain regions that encode the perceptual similarity of action and color concepts evoked by spoken words in sighted and congenitally blind people. At first, and in line with previous findings, a contrast between action and color concepts (independently of their perceptual similarity) revealed similar activations in sighted and blind people for action concepts and partially different activations for color concepts, but outside visual areas. On the other hand, adaptation analyses based on subjective ratings of perceptual similarity showed compelling differences across groups. Perceptually similar colors and actions induced adaptation in the posterior occipital cortex of sighted people only, overlapping with regions known to represent low-level visual features of those perceptual domains. Early-blind people instead showed a stronger adaptation for perceptually similar concepts in temporal regions, arguably indexing higher relianceon a lexical-semantic code to represent perceptual knowledge. Overall, our results show that visual deprivation does changes the neural bases of conceptual retrieval, but mostly at specific levels of representation supporting perceptual similarity discrimination, reconciling apparently contrasting findings in the field.
... and manipulated: future events are placed 'in front' of us like future physical locations are ahead of us while we walk [87], and spatial attention can internally move from one concept to the other in working memory as it moves from one object to the other in space [59,88]. Although such egocentric and experience-based spatial schemas are necessarily limited to conceptual dimensions that can be easily mapped to the movements of spatial attention (Box 3) or that correlate with egocentric spatial experience [52,67], they provide a self-centered frame of reference in which knowledge can be consciously accessed and manipulated. ...
Article
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In human and non-human animals, conceptual knowledge is partially organized according to low-dimensional geometries that rely on brain structures and computations involved in spatial representations. Recently, two separate lines of research have investigated cognitive maps, that are associated with the hippocampal formation and are similar to world-centered representations of the environment, and image spaces, that are associated with the parietal cortex and are similar to self-centered spatial relationships. We review evidence supporting cognitive maps and image spaces, and we propose a hippocampal–parietal network that can account for the organization and retrieval of knowledge across multiple reference frames. We also suggest that cognitive maps and image spaces may be two manifestations of a more general propensity of the mind to create low-dimensional internal models.
... However, it is possible that different components of phonological loop are related to arithmetic. As order WM capacity in the verbal modality is a robust predictor of calculation abilities as compared to estimates of item WM (Attout, Noël, & Majerus, 2014), and as blind individuals present greater order WM skills as compared to their sighted peers (Bottini, Mattioni, & Collignon, 2016;Raz, Striem, Pundak, Orlov, & Zohary, 2007), it would be worth examining in the future whether the blind numerical skills could be accounted by the use of enhanced verbal order WM. ...
Preprint
Studies involving congenitally blind adults demonstrated that visual experience is not a mandatory prerequisite for the emergence of efficient numerical abilities. It remains however unknown whether blind adults developed lifelong strategies to compensate for the absence of foundations vision would provide in infancy. We therefore assessed basic numerical abilities in blind and sighted children of 6 to 13 years old. We also assessed verbal and spatial working memory abilities and their relationship with mental arithmetic in both groups. Blind children showed similar or better numerical abilities as compared to the sighted. Blind children also outperformed their sighted peers in every task assessing verbal working memory and demonstrated a similar spatial span. The correlation between arithmetic and the spatial sketchpad was affected by the group while the correlations between arithmetic and the other two components (the central executive and the phonological loop) were not affected by early visual experience. Our data suggest that early blindness does not impair the development of basic numerical competencies in children but influences the associations between arithmetic and some working memory components.
... Given that our task presented four items at the same time and because sequential processing requires more working memory (WM) capacity, this could possibly explain the gap observed between the visual and tactile selection of the geometric deviant. However, blind children and blind adults were found to possess higher WM skills as compared to their sighted peers (Bottini, Mattioni, & Collignon, 2016;Crollen et al., 2021;Kanjlia, Feigenson, & Bedny, 2018;Withagen, Kappers, Vervloed, Knoors, & Verhoeven, 2013). They were also shown to outperform their sighted peers in a serial order memory task, in which subjects had to remember both the nature of an item and its ordinal position within a list (Raz, Striem, Pundak, Orlov, & Zohary, 2007). ...
Article
Geometry intuitions seem to be rooted in a non-verbal system that humans possess since early age. However, the mechanisms underlying the comprehension of basic geometric concepts remain elusive. Some authors have suggested that the starting point of geometry development could be found in the visual perception of specific features in our environment, thus conferring to vision a foundational role in the acquisition of geometric skills. To examine this assumption, a test probing intuitive understanding of basic geometric concepts was presented to congenitally blind children and adults. Participants had to detect the intruder among four different shapes, from which three instantiated a specific geometrical concept and one (the intruder) violated it. Although they performed above the chance level, the blind presented poorer performance than the sighted participants who did the task in the visual modality (i.e., with the eyes open), but performed equally well than the sighted who did the task in the tactile modality (i.e., with a blindfold). We therefore provide evidence that geometric abilities are impacted by the lack of vision.
... Therefore, even if it is plausible to conclude that weight as a bodily trait can influence children's perception and reaction, the result cannot be generalized to the adult population before further in-depth researches attain a more thorough understanding on this topic. Bottini et al. [17] tested the differences in the cognitive representation of sequences in working memory among people with normal vision, early blindness, and late blindness. First, all participants were blindfolded and asked to listen to a series of words (either fruit or vegetable) and memorize them in the correct order. ...
... In recent years, the core role of visual experience has been proved by some studies. For example, Bottini et al. (2016) found that sighted and late blind people consistently organize working memory items in space (with early items in the list mapped onto leftward location and later items onto rightward location), however, early blind do not show such consistent spatial mapping, which demonstrated that spatio-temporal mapping was due to visual experience. ...
Article
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People often use concrete spatial terms to represent abstract time. Previous studies have shown that mental timeline (MTL) is represented along a horizontal axis. Studies of the mental timeline have demonstrated that compared with English speakers, Mandarin speakers are more likely to think about time vertically (up-down) than horizontally (left-right/front-back). Prior studies have suggested that MTL in the up and down dimensions originated from temporal-spatial metaphors in language. However, there are still a large number of perceptual experiences in the up and down dimensions, such as visual and sensorimotor experience. Then does the visual experience in daily life affect the MTL in the vertical dimension? This study is aimed to investigate whether visual experience can promote or activate the opposite direction of MTL from implicit and explicit levels. The results showed that when the time information in the task was not prominent, the direction of vertical MTL cannot be affected by ascending or descending perceptual experience. While when the time information was prominent, whether the task was implicit or explicit, compared with the control group, watching the top-down scene significantly increased the top-down direction selection, while in the implicit task, watching the bottom-up scene made the top-down MTL disappear. To the best of our knowledge, our study provides the first evidence that the flexibility of space–time associations in vertical dimension extends beyond explicit and embraces even implicit levels. This study shows that the vertical MTL is activated in certain conditions and could be affected by the visual experience.
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Previous studies have shown that serial order in verbal working memory is spontaneously coded along the horizontal axis (i.e., the spatial positional association response codes (SPoARC) effect), with the initial items being associated with left and the last items being associated with right. These studies have led to the idea that when the cognitive system is confronted with a sequence of items processed verbally and semantically, it internally generates a spatial coordinate frame onto which memoranda can be bound to maintain their serial information. In this study, the interplay between internal and external spatial codes in the mind was investigated by testing the flexibility of the SPoARC effect. A verbal Sternberg probe detection task was used in which the displayed direction of the items during encoding (centrally, from left‐to‐right and from right‐to‐left) and the presentation rate (1‐ and 5‐s/item) were manipulated. SPoARC effects were found in all conditions but were reversed in the right‐to‐left presentation condition. Follow‐up analyses revealed no evidence of any spatial cost for the reversal; moreover, it was not influenced by the presentation rates. These findings suggest that space can be flexibly recruited for the spontaneous coding of serial order. The theoretical implications of these observations are discussed. Studies of the SPoARC effect have led to the idea that when the cognitive system is confronted with a sequence of items processed verbally and semantically, it internally generates a spatial coordinate frame onto which memoranda can be bound to maintain their serial information. In this study, the interplay between internal and external spatial codes in the mind was investigated by testing the flexibility of the SPoARC effect.
Article
Studies involving congenitally blind adults shows that visual experience is not a mandatory prerequisite for the emergence of efficient numerical abilities. It remains however unknown whether blind adults developed lifelong strategies to compensate for the absence of foundations vision would provide in infancy. We therefore assessed basic numerical abilities in blind and sighted children of 6 to 13 years old. We also assessed verbal and spatial working memory abilities and their relationship with mental arithmetic in both groups. Blind children showed similar or better numerical abilities as compared to the sighted. Blind children also outperformed their sighted peers in every task assessing verbal working memory and demonstrated a similar spatial span. The correlation between arithmetic and the spatial sketchpad was stronger in blind relative to sighted children while the correlations between arithmetic and the other two components (the central executive and the phonological loop) were not affected by early visual experience. Our data suggest that early blindness does not impair the development of basic numerical competencies in children but influences the associations between arithmetic and some working memory subcomponents.
Article
Cognitive functioning is based on sensory information. Both sensory deprivation and ageing cause cognitive deterioration. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of these two factors upon one another. The present study was cross sectional, comparing 137 blind and 124 normal vision participants using the Weschler memory scale (WMS-III), the mini mental state examination (MMSE) and the verbal fluency task (VFT). These scales measure cognitive abilities such as attention and calculation, auditory memory, working memory, associative learning, orientation, registration, attention, recall, language and phonemic and semantic verbal fluency. Findings indicated that normal vision participants performed significantly better in cognitive tasks compared to blind individuals. Both groups showed a similar pattern of decline in scores of cognitive ability with increase in age. Results suggested that sensory deprivation alone may not be considered as a detrimental factor in cognitive degeneration over the life span.
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Working memory (WM) is one of the most important cognitive functions that may play a role in the relation between math anxiety (MA) and math performance. The processing efficiency theory proposes that the rumination and worrisome thoughts (induced by MA) result in less available WM resources (which are needed to solve math problems). At the same time, high MA individuals have lower verbal and spatial WM capacity in general. Extending these findings, we found that MA is also linked to the spatial coding of serial order in verbal WM: Subjects who organize sequences from left-to-right in verbal WM show lower levels of MA compared to those who do not spatialize. Furthermore, these spatial coders have higher verbal WM capacity, better numerical order judgement abilities and higher math scores. These findings suggest that that spatially structuring the verbal mind is a promising cognitive correlate of the MA and opens new avenues for exploring causal links between elementary cognitive processes and the MA.
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Recent studies on the SPoARC (Spatial Positional Associated Response Codes) effect have shown that when Western adults are asked to keep in mind sequences of verbal items, they mentally spatialize them along the horizontal axis with the initial items being associated with left and the last items being associated with right. The origin of this mental line is still debated, but it has been theorized that it necessitates specific spatial cognitive structures to emerge, which are built through expertise. This hypothesis is examined by testing for the first time if Western individuals spatialize melodies from left to right and if expertise in the musical domain is necessary for this effect to emerge. Two groups (musicians and non-musicians) of participants were asked to memorize sequences of 4 musical notes and to indicate if a subsequent probe was part of the sequence by pressing a “yes” key or a “no” key with the left or right index finger. Left/right-hand key assignment was reversed at mid-experiment. Results showed a SPoARC effect only for the group of musicians. Moreover, no association between pitch and hand responses was observed in neither of the two groups. These findings suggest a crucial role of expertise in the SPoARC effect.
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Four experiments examined spatial correlates of the experience of coherence, that is, the extent to which propositions "fit together." Experiment 1 demonstrates for Heiderian triads (i.e., sets of liking/disliking relations between 3 fictitious persons) that name pairs from balanced triads, such as 2 friends commonly disliking a third person (high coherence) are seen as closer to each other in physical space as compared to name pairs from unbalanced triads, such as 2 persons disliking each other and having a common friend (low coherence). This pattern of results is conceptually replicated in 2 further experiments for categorical syllogisms. Two terms in conclusions from valid syllogisms (high coherence) were seen as spatially closer to each other than when 2 terms came from invalid syllogisms (low coherence). In the final 2 experiments, similar closeness effects are demonstrated for word pairs from scenarios that "made sense" in terms of causal connectedness (latent causality) as opposed to word pairs from scenarios perceived as causally unconnected. These findings are discussed in the context of spatial binding theories, applied psychology, and embodied cognition in general, and their methodological implications are highlighted. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Across many cultures people conceptualize time as extending along a horizontal Mental Time Line (MTL). This spatial mapping of time has been shown to depend on experience with written text, and may also depend on other graphic conventions such as graphs and calendars. All of this information is typically acquired visually, suggesting that visual experience may play an important role in the development of the MTL. Do blind people develop a MTL? If so, how does it compare with the MTL in sighted? In this study we tested early blind, late blind and sighted participants in a space-time congruity task. Participants had to classify temporal words by pressing a right and a left key, either with crossed or uncrossed hands. We found that the MTL develops in the absence of vision, and that it is based on the same external frame of reference in sighted and blind people. Reading braille may provide the same experiential link between space and time in the manual modality as reading printed text provides in the visual modality. These results showing a similar MTL in sighted and blind participants contrast with previous results showing that the Mental Number Line (MNL) depends on different spatial coordinates in the sighted and the blind, and suggest that spatial representations of time and number may have different experiential bases. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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The processing of numerical information induces a spatial response bias: Faster responses to small numbers with the left hand and faster responses to large numbers with the right hand. Most theories agree that long-term representations underlie this so called SNARC effect (Spatial Numerical Association of Response Codes; Dehaene et al., 1993). However, a spatial response bias was also observed with the activation of temporary position-space associations in working memory (ordinal position effect; van Dijck and Fias, 2011). Items belonging to the beginning of a memorized sequence are responded to faster with the left hand side while items at the end of the sequence are responded to faster with the right hand side. The theoretical possibility was put forward that the SNARC effect is an instance of the ordinal position effect, with the empirical consequence that the SNARC effect and the ordinal position effect cannot be observed simultaneously. In two experiments we falsify this claim by demonstrating that the SNARC effect and the ordinal position effect are not mutually exclusive. Consequently, this suggests that the SNARC effect and the ordinal position effect result from the activation of different representations. We conclude that spatial response biases can result from the activation of both pre-existing positions in long-term memory and from temporary space associations in working memory at the same time.
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Various prominent models on serial order coding in working memory (WM) build on the notion that serial order is achieved by binding the various items to-be-maintained to fixed position markers. Despite being relatively successful in accounting for empirical observations and some recent neuro-imaging support, these models were largely formulated on theoretical grounds and few specifications have been provided with respect to the cognitive and/or neural nature of these position markers. Here we outline a hypothesis on a novel candidate mechanism to substantiate the notion of serial position markers. Specifically, we propose that serial order WM is grounded in the spatial attention system: (I) The position markers that provide multi-item WM with a serial context should be understood as coordinates within an internal, spatially defined system; (II) internal spatial attention is involved in searching through the resulting serial order representation; and (III) retrieval corresponds to selection by spatial attention. We sketch the available empirical support and discuss how the hypothesis may provide a parsimonious framework from which to understand a broad range of observations across behavioral, neural and neuropsychological domains. Finally, we pinpoint what we believe are major questions for future research inspired by the hypothesis.
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Spatial-numerical associations are observed when participants perform number categorization tasks. One such observation is the spatial numerical associations of response codes (SNARC) effect, showing an association between small numbers and the left-hand side and between large numbers and the right-hand side. It has long been argued that this spatial association is automatically activated by the long-term representation underlying numbers processing. Instead, van Dijck and Fias (2011) argued that this association is a short-term representation that is constructed during task execution. This argument was based on the observation of an association between the ordinal position of an item in working memory and response side (e.g., the ordinal position effect). Four different experiments were set up to systematically investigate this assumption. Our results indicate that the activation of the canonical order of numbers in working memory (e.g., 1, 2, 3, etc.) is indeed necessary to observe the SNARC effect. The activation of the standard sequence of numbers (e.g., from 1 to 9) can be overruled when a new random sequence is memorized. However, this is only observed when retrieval of the memorized sequence is required during the numbers classification task. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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In the last couple of decades, there has been a growing number of reports on space-based representation of numbers and serial order in humans. In the present study, to explore evolutionary origins of such representations, we examined whether our closest evolutionary relatives, chimpanzees, map an acquired sequence onto space in a similar way to humans. The subjects had been trained to perform a number sequence task in which they touched a sequence of "small" to "large" Arabic numerals presented in random locations on the monitor. This task was presented in sessions that also included test trials consisting of only two numerals (1 and 9) horizontally arranged. On half of the trials 1 was located to the left of 9, whereas on the other half 1 was to the right to 9. The Chimpanzees' performance was systematically influenced by the spatial arrangement of the stimuli; specifically, they responded quicker when 1 was on the left and 9 on the right compared to the other way around. This result suggests that chimpanzees, like humans, spontaneously map a learned sequence onto space.
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Several studies have demonstrated enhanced auditory processing in the blind, suggesting that they compensate their visual impairment in part with greater sensitivity of the other senses. However, several physiological studies show that early visual deprivation can impact negatively on auditory spatial localization. Here we report for the first time severely impaired auditory localization in the congenitally blind: thresholds for spatially bisecting three consecutive, spatially-distributed sound sources were seriously compromised, on average 4.2-fold typical thresholds, and half performing at random. In agreement with previous studies, these subjects showed no deficits on simpler auditory spatial tasks or with auditory temporal bisection, suggesting that the encoding of Euclidean auditory relationships is specifically compromised in the congenitally blind. It points to the importance of visual experience in the construction and calibration of auditory spatial maps, with implications for rehabilitation strategies for the congenitally blind.
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Previous research suggests that people construct mental time lines to represent and reason about time. However, is the ability to represent space truly necessary for representing events along a mental time line? Our results are the first to demonstrate that deficits in spatial representation (as a function of left hemispatial neglect) also result in deficits in representing events along the mental time line. Specifically, we show that patients with left hemispatial neglect have difficulty representing events that are associated with the past and, thus, fall to the left on the mental time line. These results demonstrate that representations of space and time share neural underpinnings and that representations of time have specific spatial properties (e.g., a left and a right side). Furthermore, it appears that intact spatial representations are necessary for at least some types of temporal representation.
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The SNARC effect reflects an association between the processing of quantity information and the side of response. A close relationship has been demonstrated between the direction of this association (SNARC effect) and reading direction habit. In the present study we investigated the relationship between processing of magnitude and ordinal information processing. In the first experiment, bilingual Hebrew-English participants judged the ordinal position of letters in both the English (left-to-right- and the Hebrew (right-to-left) alphabet. The observed direction of the SNARC effect was congruent with the direction of reading in both languages. The second experiment explored the same task, but now the instructions emphasized the magnitude meaning of Hebrew letters (e.g. classify the letter as smaller or larger than 5). Contrary to experiment 1, a regular left-to-right SNARC effect was observed. Finally, in experiment 3 we demonstrate that this left-to-right oriented SNARC effect is robustly observed in Hebrew participants if magnitude information is relevant to the task. Relevant interpretations regarding the observed dissociation between magnitude and ordinal processing are discussed.
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The ability to maintain the serial order of events is recognized as a major function of working memory. Although general models of working memory postulate a close link between working memory and attention, such a link has so far not been proposed specifically for serial-order working memory. The present study provided the first empirical demonstration of a direct link between serial order in verbal working memory and spatial selective attention. We show that the retrieval of later items of a sequence stored in working memory-compared with that of earlier items-produces covert attentional shifts toward the right. This observation suggests the conceptually surprising notion that serial-order working memory, even for nonspatially defined verbal items, draws on spatial attention.
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How does culture shape our concepts? Across many cultures, people conceptualize time as if it flows along a horizontal timeline, but the direction of this implicit timeline is culture specific: Later times are on the right in some cultures but on the left in others. Here we investigated whether experience reading can determine the direction and orientation of the mental timeline, independent of other cultural and linguistic factors. Dutch speakers performed space-time congruity tasks with the instructions and stimuli written in either standard, mirror-reversed, or rotated orthography. When participants judged temporal phrases written in standard orthography, their reaction times were consistent with a rightward-directed mental timeline, but after brief exposure to mirror-reversed orthography, their mental timelines were reversed. When standard orthography was rotated 90° clockwise (downward) or counterclockwise (upward), participants' mental timelines were rotated, accordingly. Reading can play a causal role in shaping people's implicit time representations. Exposure to a new orthography can change the direction and orientation of the mental timeline within minutes, even when the new space-time mapping directly contradicts the reader's usual mapping. To account for this representational flexibility, we propose the hierarchical mental metaphors theory, according to which culturally conditioned mappings between space and time are specific instances of a more general mapping, which is conditioned by the relationship between space and time in the physical world. Conceptualizations of time are culture specific at one level of analysis but may be universal at another. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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Do people with different kinds of bodies think differently? According to the body-specificity hypothesis (Casasanto, 2009), they should. In this article, I review evidence that right- and left-handers, who perform actions in systematically different ways, use correspondingly different areas of the brain for imagining actions and representing the meanings of action verbs. Beyond concrete actions, the way people use their hands also influences the way they represent abstract ideas with positive and negative emotional valence like “goodness,” “honesty,” and “intelligence” and how they communicate about these ideas in spontaneous speech and gesture. Changing how people use their right and left hands can cause them to think differently, suggesting that motoric differences between right- and left-handers are not merely correlated with cognitive differences. Body- specific patterns of motor experience shape the way we think, feel, communicate, and make decisions.
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The impact of sensory experience during early life on space perception and control of action has only been scarcely studied. The visual system typically provides the more accurate and reliable spatial information of our surrounding and is then usually considered as the frontrunner sense when spatial processing is at play. The study of visually deprived individual therefore offers a unique opportunity to investigate the role that vision plays in shaping how we process our surrounding space. However, aside quantitative differences between sighted and blind people in their perceptual skills, visual deprivation may also result in qualitatively different ways of processing non-visual information (Eimer, 2004).
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Nine experiments of timed odd-even judgments examined how parity and number magnitude are accessed from Arabic and verbal numerals. With Arabic numerals, Ss used the rightmost digit to access a store of semantic number knowledge. Verbal numerals went through an additional stage of transcoding to base 10. Magnitude information was automatically accessed from Arabic numerals. Large numbers preferentially elicited a rightward response, and small numbers a leftward response. The Spatial-Numerical Association of Response Codes (SNARC) effect depended only on relative number magnitude and was weaker or absent with letters or verbal numerals. Direction did not vary with handedness or hemispheric dominance but was linked to the direction of writing, as it faded or even reversed in right-to-left writing Iranian Ss. The results supported a modular architecture for number processing, with distinct but interconnected Arabic, verbal, and magnitude representations.
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The strong association between numbers and space is found in the well-documented SNARC effect (Spatial Numerical Association of Response Codes), where responses on small/large numbers are faster in the left/right side of space, respectively. However, little is known about the developmental process through which numbers are mapped onto external physical space. Here we show that early blind individuals, but not late blind or sighted, demonstrate a reversed SNARC effect when performing a numerical comparison task with hands crossed over the body midline. Importantly, this reversed SNARC effect was not observed in any group of participants in a control parity judgment task. The present study therefore demonstrates that early visual experience drives the development of an external coordinate system for the visuo-spatial representation of numbers and further supports the idea that different types of spatial information are engaged in specific numerical tasks.
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Spanish and English speakers tend to conceptualize time as running from left to right along a mental line. Previous research suggests that this representational strategy arises from the participants' exposure to a left-to-right writing system. However, direct evidence supporting this assertion suffers from several limitations and relies only on the visual modality. This study subjected to a direct test the reading hypothesis using an auditory task. Participants from two groups (Spanish and Hebrew) differing in the directionality of their orthographic system had to discriminate temporal reference (past or future) of verbs and adverbs (referring to either past or future) auditorily presented to either the left or right ear by pressing a left or a right key. Spanish participants were faster responding to past words with the left hand and to future words with the right hand, whereas Hebrew participants showed the opposite pattern. Our results demonstrate that the left-right mapping of time is not restricted to the visual modality and that the direction of reading accounts for the preferred directionality of the mental time line. These results are discussed in the context of a possible mechanism underlying the effects of reading direction on highly abstract conceptual representations.
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People often describe things that are similar as close and things that are dissimilar as far apart. Does the way people talk about similarity reveal something fundamental about the way they conceptualize it? Three experiments tested the relationship between similarity and spatial proximity that is encoded in metaphors in language. Similarity ratings for pairs of words or pictures varied as a function of how far apart the stimuli appeared on the computer screen, but the influence of distance on similarity differed depending on the type of judgments the participants made. Stimuli presented closer together were rated more similar during conceptual judgments of abstract entities or unseen object properties but were rated less similar during perceptual judgments of visual appearance. These contrasting results underscore the importance of testing predictions based on linguistic metaphors experimentally and suggest that our sense of similarity arises from our ability to combine available perceptual information with stored knowledge of experiential regularities.
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Reading and writing require access to stored knowledge about the spelling of words. Presumably, we recognize chair but not chare or chiar as a word of English, and similarly would write 'chair' but not 'chare' or 'chiar', because we access orthographic representations that specify the identity and the order of the graphemes (abstract letter representations) that comprise the spelling of words. Thus, a fundamental problem concerns the content and structure of the hypothesized orthographic representations, and how information about grapheme order is represented and processed. We present evidence from a brain-damaged patient (N.G.) with unilateral neglect that this information is coded spatially. Unilateral neglect is a disorder clinically characterized by the inability to perceive or respond to stimuli presented to the side contralateral to the site of lesion, despite the absence of significant sensory or motor deficits. The patient made reading and spelling errors only on the right half of words, regardless of length. Furthermore, she produced the same pattern of errors in reading and spelling, irrespective of the topographic arrangement of stimuli in reading (horizontal, vertical or mirror-reversed words) and of the type of response in spelling (written, oral or backward oral spelling). This pattern of performance suggests that order information in orthographic representations is coded spatially in a word-centred coordinate system; that is, in a spatially defined coordinate frame whose centre corresponds to the midpoint of a canonical, orientation-invariant representation of the word and not the midpoint of the word stimulus.
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Through the preferential pairing of response positions to pitch, here we show that the internal representation of pitch height is spatial in nature and affects performance, especially in musically trained participants, when response alternatives are either vertically or horizontally aligned. The finding that our cognitive system maps pitch height onto an internal representation of space, which in turn affects motor performance even when this perceptual attribute is irrelevant to the task, extends previous studies on auditory perception and suggests an interesting analogy between music perception and mathematical cognition. Both the basic elements of mathematical cognition (i.e. numbers) and the basic elements of musical cognition (i.e. pitches), appear to be mapped onto a mental spatial representation in a way that affects motor performance.
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Everyday linguistic expressions in many languages suggest that back and front space is projected onto temporal concepts of past and future (as in the sentence we are years ahead of them). The present experiment tested the psychological reality of a different space-time conceptual metaphor--projecting the past to left space and the future to right space--for which there are no linguistic traces in any language. Participants categorized words as referring to the past or to the future. Irrelevant to this task, words appeared either to the left or right of the screen, and responses were given by keypresses of the left or right hand. Judgments were facilitated when word position and response mapping were congruent with the left-past right-future conceptual metaphor. These results are discussed in the context of current claims about the embodiment of meaning and the possible mechanisms by which conceptual metaphors can be acquired.
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Theories of embodied cognition emphasize the importance of sensorimotor schemas linked to external world experience for representing conceptual knowledge. Accordingly, some researchers have proposed that the spatial representation of numerical and non-numerical sequences relies on visuomotor routines, like reading habit and finger counting. There is a growing interest in how these two routines contribute to the spatial representation of ordinal sequences, although no investigation has so far directly compared them. The present study aims to investigate how these routines contribute to represent ordinal information in space. To address this issue, bilingual participants reading either from left-to-right or right-to-left were required to map ordinal information to all fingers of their right dominant hand. Critically, we manipulated both the direction of the mapping and the language of the verbal information. More specifically, a finger-mapping compatibility task was adopted in three experiments to explore the spatial representation of numerical (digit numbers and number words) and non-numerical (days of the week, presented in Hebrew and in English) sequences. Results showed that numerical information was preferentially mapped according to participants’ finger counting habits, regardless of hand posture (prone and supine), number notation and reading habit. However, for non-numerical ordinal sequences, reading and finger counting directions both contributed to determine a preferential spatial mapping. These findings indicate that abstract knowledge representation relies on multiple over-trained visuomotor routines. More generally, these results highlight the capacity of our cognitive system to flexibly represent abstract ordered information, by relying on different directional experiences (finger counting, reading direction) depending on the stimuli and on the task at hand.
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The present study examined whether traveling through serially-ordered verbal memories exploits overt visuospatial attentional resources. In a three-phase behavioral study, five single-digits were presented sequentially at one spatial location in phase 1, while recognition and verbal recall were tested in phases 2 and 3, respectively. Participants' spontaneous eye movements were registered along with the verbal responses. Results showed that the search and the retrieval of serially-ordered information were mediated by spontaneous ocular movements. Specifically, recognizing middle items of the memorized sequence required longer inspection times and, importantly, a greater involvement of overt attentional resources, than recognizing the serially first-presented item and, to a lesser extent, the last-presented item. Moreover, serial order was found to be spatially encoded from left-to-right, as eye position during vocal responses deviated the more to the right, the later the serial position of the retrieved item in the sequence. These findings suggest that overt spatial attention mediates the scanning of serial order representation. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Across 7 studies, the authors examined the relationship between experiences of verticality and abstract versus concrete processing. Experiencing high, relative to low, verticality led to higher level identifications for actions (Study 1), greater willingness to delay short-term monetary gains for larger long-term monetary gains (Studies 2 and 5), and more frequent perceptions of meaningful relationships between objects and categories (Studies 3, 4, and 6), demonstrating that high verticality leads to more high-level construals. Mechanisms of these effects were explored, and the studies present evidence suggesting that mood (Studies 3 and 4), felt power (Study 4), arousal (Study 4), perceptual scope (Study 4), superficial semantic associations (Study 5), and movement (Study 5) do not mediate these effects. Instead, we found that even minimal experiences of verticality influence construal level (Study 6) and that verticality can influence construal level independent of the many plausible mediators. Furthermore, the relationship is reciprocal with abstract and concrete processing influencing the verticality of one's visual perspective (Study 7), suggesting an intimate link between construal level (abstract vs. concrete processing) and experiences of verticality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
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Humans map number onto space. However, the origins of this association, and particularly the degree to which it depends upon cultural experience, are not fully understood. Here we provide the first demonstration of a number–space mapping in a non-human primate. We trained four adult male rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) to select the fourth position from the bottom of a five-element vertical array. Monkeys maintained a preference to choose the fourth position through changes in the appearance, location, and spacing of the vertical array. We next asked whether monkeys show a spatially-oriented number mapping by testing their responses to the same five-element stimulus array rotated ninety degrees into a horizontal line. In these horizontal probe trials, monkeys preferentially selected the fourth position from the left, but not the fourth position from the right. Our results indicate that rhesus macaques map number onto space, suggesting that the association between number and space in human cognition is not purely a result of cultural experience and instead has deep evolutionary roots.
What is the relationship between spatial language and abstract concepts? When people talk about abstract things that they can never see or touch, they often use spatial metaphors (e.g., a long vacation, a high price, a close friendship). According to theories of metaphorical mental representation, linguistic metaphors reflect underlying mental metaphors. Yet, behavioral experiments show that this is only one of the possible relationships between spatial metaphors in language and our spatial conceptualizations of abstract domains. In some cases, linguistic metaphors not only reflect speakers' thoughts, they also change those thoughts, such that people who use different linguistic metaphors rely on correspondingly different mental metaphors. Alternatively, spatial metaphors in language may reflect the way people conceptualize an abstract domain in some circumstances, but not in others. Finally, spatial language may reflect the way an abstract domain is typically conceptualized by some people, but not by others. There is no single relationship between spatial language and abstract concepts. Discovering whether (and under what conditions) a linguistic metaphor corresponds to a mental metaphor can illuminate the ways in which our interactions with the physical and social environment shape our mental lives. WIREs Cogn Sci 2014, 5:139-149. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1271 CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Do English speakers think about time the way they talk about it? In spoken English, time appears to flow along the sagittal axis (front/back): the future is ahead and the past is behind us. Here we show that when asked to gesture about past and future events deliberately, English speakers often use the sagittal axis, as language suggests they should. By contrast, when producing co-speech gestures spontaneously, they use the lateral axis (left/right) overwhelmingly more often, gesturing leftward for earlier times and rightward for later times. This left-right mapping of time is consistent with the flow of time on calendars and graphs in English-speaking cultures, but is completely absent from conventional spoken metaphors. English speakers gesture on the lateral axis even when they are using front/back metaphors in their co-occurring speech. This speech-gesture dissociation is not due to any lack of lexical or constructional resources to spatialize time laterally in language, nor to any lack of physical resources to spatialize time sagittally in gesture. We propose that when speakers are describing sequences of events, they often use neither the Moving Ego nor Moving Time perspectives. Rather, they adopt a “Moving Attention” perspective, which is grounded in patterns of interaction with cultural artifacts, not in patterns of interaction with the natural environment. We suggest possible pragmatic, kinematic, and mnemonic motivations for the use of a lateral mental timeline in gesture and in thought. Gestures reveal an implicit spatial conceptualization of time that cannot be inferred from language.
Article
Research on the performance of total congenital blind subjects in imagery tasks is of particular interest because it helps to evaluate the consequences of their lack of visual experience. The present paper examines some points which remained unclear in the preceding research on the effects of imagery instructions on the recall of blind subjects. In Experiment 1 it is shown that, in a free recall task of unrelated nouns, the blind may take advantage of imagery instructions, independently of the particular requirement to form either common or bizarre images. In Experiment 2 the multiple image processing deficit of the blind found by De Beni and Cornoldi (1988) was again observed, but the effect was not found when the same quantity of material had to be processed verbally. Results are interpreted as showing that, although the blind may follow imagery instructions, their visual handicap creates specific difficulties in creating interactive images involving several items at the same time.
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Starting from the premise that working memory is a system for providing access to representations for complex cognition, six requirements for a working memory system are delineated: (1) maintaining structural representations by dynamic bindings, (2) manipulating structural representations, (3) flexible reconfiguration, (4) partial decoupling from long-term memory, (5) controlled retrieval from long-term memory, and (6) encoding of new structures into longterm memory. The chapter proposes an architecture for a system that meets these requirements. The working memory system consists of a declarative and a procedural part, each of which has three embedded components: the activated part of long-term memory, a component for creating new structural representations by dynamic bindings (the ‘‘region of direct access’’ for declarative working memory, and the ‘‘bridge’’ for procedural working memory), and a mechanism for selecting a single element (‘‘focus of attention’’ for declarative working memory, and ‘‘response focus’’ for procedural working memory). The architecture affords two modes of information processing, an analytical and an associative mode. This distinction provides a theoretically founded formulation of a dual-process theory of reasoning.
Article
Across cultures people construct spatial representations of time. However, the particular spatial layouts created to represent time may differ across cultures. This paper examines whether people automatically access and use culturally specific spatial representations when reasoning about time. In Experiment 1, we asked Hebrew and English speakers to arrange pictures depicting temporal sequences of natural events, and to point to the hypothesized location of events relative to a reference point. In both tasks, English speakers (who read left to right) arranged temporal sequences to progress from left to right, whereas Hebrew speakers (who read right to left) arranged them from right to left, replicating previous work. In Experiments 2 and 3, we asked the participants to make rapid temporal order judgments about pairs of pictures presented one after the other (i.e., to decide whether the second picture showed a conceptually earlier or later time-point of an event than the first picture). Participants made responses using two adjacent keyboard keys. English speakers were faster to make "earlier" judgments when the "earlier" response needed to be made with the left response key than with the right response key. Hebrew speakers showed exactly the reverse pattern. Asking participants to use a space-time mapping inconsistent with the one suggested by writing direction in their language created interference, suggesting that participants were automatically creating writing-direction consistent spatial representations in the course of their normal temporal reasoning. It appears that people automatically access culturally specific spatial representations when making temporal judgments even in nonlinguistic tasks.
Article
Several psychophysical and neuropsychological investigations have suggested that the mental representation of numbers takes the form of a number line along which magnitude is positioned in ascending order according to our reading habits. A longstanding debate is whether this spatial frame is triggered automatically as intrinsic part of the number semantics or whether it constitutes a short-term representation constructed during task execution. Although several observations clearly favor the working memory account, its causal involvement has not yet been demonstrated. In two experiments we show that information stored in working memory get spatially coded in function of its ordinal position in the sequence and that the spatial-numerical associations typically observed in number categorization tasks draw upon this mechanism.
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Despite the apparent simplicity of picking numbers at random, it is virtually impossible to produce a sequence of truly random numbers. Although numbers seem to pop-up spontaneously in one's mind, their choice is invariably influenced by previously generated numbers [1 • Knoch D. • Brugger P. • Regard M. Suppressing versus releasing a habit: frequency-dependent effects of prefrontal transcranial magnetic stimulation.Cerebr. Cortex. 2005; 15: 885-887 • Crossref • PubMed • Scopus (47) • Google Scholar ]. Here, we demonstrate how the eyes and their position give an insight into the nature of the systematic choices made by the brain's ‘random number generator’. By measuring a person's vertical and horizontal eye position, we were able to predict with reliable confidence the size of the next number — before it was spoken. Specifically, a leftward and downward change in eye position announced that the next number would be smaller than the last. Correspondingly, if the eyes changed position to the right and upward, it forecast that the next number would be larger. Apart from supporting the old wisdom that it is often the eyes that betray the mind, the findings highlight the intricate links between supposedly abstract thought processes, the body's actions and the world around us.
Article
Do people with different kinds of bodies think differently? According to the body-specificity hypothesis, people who interact with their physical environments in systematically different ways should form correspondingly different mental representations. In a test of this hypothesis, 5 experiments investigated links between handedness and the mental representation of abstract concepts with positive or negative valence (e.g., honesty, sadness, intelligence). Mappings from spatial location to emotional valence differed between right- and left-handed participants. Right-handers tended to associate rightward space with positive ideas and leftward space with negative ideas, but left-handers showed the opposite pattern, associating rightward space with negative ideas and leftward with positive ideas. These contrasting mental metaphors for valence cannot be attributed to linguistic experience, because idioms in English associate good with right but not with left. Rather, right- and left-handers implicitly associated positive valence more strongly with the side of space on which they could act more fluently with their dominant hands. These results support the body-specificity hypothesis and provide evidence for the perceptuomotor basis of even the most abstract ideas.
Article
The purpose of the present study is twofold: the first objective is to evaluate the importance of visual experience for the ability to form a spatial representation (spatial mental model) of fairly elaborate spatial descriptions. Secondly, we examine whether blind people exhibit the same preferences (i.e. level of performance on spatial tasks) as sighted people in processing the type of perspective that is employed in a spatial description. Early blind, late blind and sighted participants listened to a route and a survey description of two environments. Next, they had to execute a recognition/priming task, a bird flight distance comparison task, and a scale model task. Spatial priming and symbolic distance effects were found for all participants. These findings suggest that early and late blind people can form spatial mental models on the basis of route and survey descriptions. Interestingly, in contrast with sighted people, blind people performed better after listening to a route than a survey description, even when the spatial problems that has to be solved explicitly favor the survey description. It seems that people with active vision build up a spatial mental model more efficiently from a survey description, while people with only visual memories (late blind), similar to people with no visual memories (early blind), build up a spatial mental model more efficiently from a route description.
Article
Does vision play a role in the elaboration of the semantic representation of small and large numerosities, notably in its spatial format? To investigate this issue, we decided to compare in the auditory modality the performance of congenitally and early blind people with that of a sighted control group, in two number comparison tasks (to 5 and to 55) and in one parity judgement task. Blind and sighted participants presented exactly the same distance and SNARC (Spatial Numerical Association of Response Codes) effects, indicating that they share the same semantic numerical representation. In consequence, our results suggest that the spatial dimension of the numerical representation is not necessarily attributable to the visual modality and that the absence of vision does not preclude the elaboration of this representation for 1-digit (Experiment 1) and 2-digit numerosities (Experiment 2). Moreover, as classical semantic numerical effects were observed in the auditory modality, the postulate of the amodal nature of the mental number line for both small and large magnitudes was reinforced.
Article
Dehaene et al. (1993, Experiment 6) presented evidence that the mental number line is left-to-right oriented with respect to representational associations and not with respect to left and right hands. Here we tried to replicate the study of Dehaene et al. (1993) in a larger sample (n = 32) using four different stimulus notations (Arabic numbers, number words, auditory number words, and dice patterns). As in the study by Dehaene et al. (1993), the spatial numerical association of response codes (SNARC) effect was examined with an incongruent hand assignment to left/right response keys (crossed hands). In contrast to Dehaene et al. (1993), we did not observe a SNARC effect in any condition. Power analyses revealed that n = 32 should have been large enough to detect SNARC effects of usual size. Furthermore, time-course analyses revealed no SNARC slope in faster and slower responses, so that the null effect could not be due to relatively slow responses with crossed hands. Joint analyses with previous data (Nuerk et al., 2005b) revealed significantly steeper SNARC slopes with congruent hand assignment, and no interaction between hand assignment and notation. Altogether, these findings suggest that the results of Dehaene et al. (1993) only hold under specific conditions. Differences between studies are discussed. We suggest that spatial context has an influence on the SNARC effect and that hand-based associations (and not only representational associations) are relevant for the SNARC effect.
Article
How do we construct abstract ideas like justice, mathematics, or time-travel? In this paper we investigate whether mental representations that result from physical experience underlie people's more abstract mental representations, using the domains of space and time as a testbed. People often talk about time using spatial language (e.g., a long vacation, a short concert). Do people also think about time using spatial representations, even when they are not using language? Results of six psychophysical experiments revealed that people are unable to ignore irrelevant spatial information when making judgments about duration, but not the converse. This pattern, which is predicted by the asymmetry between space and time in linguistic metaphors, was demonstrated here in tasks that do not involve any linguistic stimuli or responses. These findings provide evidence that the metaphorical relationship between space and time observed in language also exists in our more basic representations of distance and duration. Results suggest that our mental representations of things we can never see or touch may be built, in part, out of representations of physical experiences in perception and motor action.
Article
The SNARC effect refers to the association of smaller numbers with the left and of larger numbers with the right side of extracorporal space (Dehaene, Bossini, & Giraux, 1993). We tested the assumption that, in addition to these associations, numbers are also related to participants' hands. We report two experiments with vertically arranged buttons in which the nature of the SNARC effect depended on whether the task set was button or hand related: In the first case, a vertical location-related SNARC effect occurred, whereas in the second a hand-related SNARC effect was found. Our third experiment confirmed that space-related number representations dominate the SNARC effect when the buttons are arranged horizontally. We concluded that both effector- and space-related number representations can influence and modify the SNARC effect.
Article
The objective of this review is to examine and evaluate recent findings on cognitive functioning (in particular imagery processes) in individuals with congenital visual impairments, including total blindness, low-vision and monocular vision. As one might expect, the performance of blind individuals in many behaviours and tasks requiring imagery can be inferior to that of sighted subjects; however, surprisingly often this is not the case. Interestingly, there is evidence that the blind often employ different cognitive mechanisms than sighted subjects, suggesting that compensatory mechanisms can overcome the limitations of sight loss. Taken together, these studies suggest that the nature of perceptual input on which we commonly rely strongly affects the organization of our mental processes. We also review recent neuroimaging studies on the neural correlates of sensory perception and mental imagery in visually impaired individuals that have cast light on the plastic functional reorganization mechanisms associated with visual deprivation.
Crossed Hands and the Snarc Effect: A Failure to
  • G Wood
  • H Nuerk
  • K Willmes
Wood, G., Nuerk, H., & Willmes, K. (2006). Crossed Hands and the Snarc Effect: A Failure to Replicate Dehaene, Bossini and Giraux (1993). Cortex, 42(8), 1069 – 79.
Design for a working memory The Psychology of M
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Oberauer, K. (2009). Design for a working memory. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The Psychology of M A N U S C R I P T
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Spatial attention interacts with serial order retrieval from verbal working memory
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Reading experience shapes the mental timeline but not the mental number line
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Pitt, B., & Casasanto, D. (2016). Reading experience shapes the mental timeline but not the mental number line. In D. Grodner, D. Mirman, A. Papafragou, & J. Trueswell (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2753e2758). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
The psychology of learning and motivation (pp. 45e100)
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Oberauer, K. (2009). Design for a working memory. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (pp. 45e100). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
The Psychology of ORDINAL POSITION EFFECT IN BLIND 30
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