Nature and nurture effects on the spatiality of the mental time line

Filomena Anelli*, Gregory Peters-Founshtein, Yaen Shreibman, Elior Moreh, Chiara Forlani, Francesca Frassinetti, Shahar Arzy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The nature-nurture debate regarding the origin of mental lines is fundamental for cognitive neuroscience. We examined natural-nurture effects on the mental time line, applying three different challenges to the directionality of time representation. We tested (1) patients with left-neglect and healthy participants, who are (2) left-to-right or right-to-left readers/writers, using (3) a lateralized left-right button press or a vocal mode in response to a mental time task, which asks participants to judge whether events have already happened in the past or are still to happen in the future. Using lateralized responses, a spatial-temporal association of response code (STEARC) effect was found, in concordance with the cultural effects. With vocal responses (no lateralization), past and future events showed similar results in both cultures. In patients with neglect, who have a deficit of spatial attention in processing the left side of space, future events were processed more slowly and less accurately than past events in both cultures. Our results indicate the existence of a “natural” disposition to map past and future events along a horizontal mental time line, which is affected by the different ways in which spatial representation of time is introduced.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number11710
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018

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© 2018, The Author(s).


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