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Space and time in the parietal cortex: fMRI Evidence for a meural asymmetry

Gijssels, T., Bottini, R., Rueschemeyer, S.-A., & Casasanto, D. (2013). Space and time in the parietal cortex: fMRI Evidence for a meural asymmetry. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2013) (pp. 495-500). Austin,TX: Cognitive Science Society. Retrieved from http://mindmodeling.org/cogsci2013/papers/0113/index.html.
How are space and time related in the brain? This study contrasts two proposals that make different predictions about the interaction between spatial and temporal magnitudes. Whereas ATOM implies that space and time are symmetrically related, Metaphor Theory claims they are asymmetrically related. Here we investigated whether space and time activate the same neural structures in the inferior parietal cortex (IPC) and whether the activation is symmetric or asymmetric across domains. We measured participants’ neural activity while they made temporal and spatial judgments on the same visual stimuli. The behavioral results replicated earlier observations of a space-time asymmetry: Temporal judgments were more strongly influenced by irrelevant spatial information than vice versa. The BOLD fMRI data indicated that space and time activated overlapping clusters in the IPC and that, consistent with Metaphor Theory, this activation was asymmetric: The shared region of IPC was activated more strongly during temporal judgments than during spatial judgments. We consider three possible interpretations of this neural asymmetry, based on 3 possible functions of IPC.
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