Prisms to travel in time: Investigation of time-space association through prismatic adaptation effect on mental time travel

Filomena Anelli*, Elisa Ciaramelli, Shahar Arzy, Francesca Frassinetti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Accumulating evidence suggests that humans process time and space in similar veins. Humans represent time along a spatial continuum, and perception of temporal durations can be altered through manipulations of spatial attention by prismatic adaptation (PA). Here, we investigated whether PA-induced manipulations of spatial attention can also influence more conceptual aspects of time, such as humans’ ability to travel mentally back and forward in time (mental time travel, MTT). Before and after leftward- and rightward-PA, participants projected themselves in the past, present or future time (i.e., self-projection), and, for each condition, determined whether a series of events were located in the past or the future with respect to that specific self-location in time (i.e., self-reference). The results demonstrated that leftward and rightward shifts of spatial attention facilitated recognition of past and future events, respectively. These findings suggest that spatial attention affects the temporal processing of the human self.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Fondazione Del Monte of Bologna and Ravenna (Italy), by Fondazione Maugeri (Italy), and by RFO (Ricerca Fondamentale Orientata, Ministry of University and Research). SA is supported by the Israel Science Foundation. We thank Marta Corrado and Lorenza De Maio for their contribution in collecting data, and Prof. Julio Santiago and two other anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on a previous version of this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Mental time travel
  • Prismatic adaptation
  • Self-projection
  • Self-reference
  • Spatial attention
  • Time representation


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