Date: 01-Oct-2006 From: Alexander Kranjec <akranjecbrooklyn.cuny.edu> Subject: Extending Spatial Frames of Reference to Temporal Concepts: An embodied perspective
Institution: City University of New York
Program: Experimental Psychology
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006
Author: Alexander Kranjec
Dissertation Title: Extending Spatial Frames of Reference to Temporal Concepts: An embodied perspective
Three experiments investigate relations among spatial and temporal cognition, embodied experience and language. Experiment 1A uses vertical spatial primes and an ambiguous temporal question ("Next Wednesday's meeting has been moved forward two days") to test how time concepts could be constrained by the structure of spatial concepts. Vertical spatial orientation was found to influence temporal thinking in ways inconsistent with previous research using horizontal primes. Experiment 1B introduces a new ambiguous question that is more abstract and culturally neutral than the original, finding it to be similarly ambiguous in its capacity to produce "earlier" or "later" responses to suggestions of forward motion. The result is taken as further evidence that sequential temporal relations can be represented spatially without reference to an ego, suggesting that answers to the original ambiguous question about Wednesday's meeting can similarly be derived. The next section examines tripartite systems that are currently common to several theories concerned with spatial frames of reference distinctions. After reviewing three basic spatial frame of reference types, the results of recent empirical work investigating temporal metaphor is applied to a theoretical temporal frame of reference model. The concept of an extrinsic temporal frame of reference is introduced and supported by Experiments 2A-C. The last section argues that embodied views of cognition are important because they offer possible solutions to the long-standing symbol grounding problem. Experiment 3 investigates how implicit embodied representations interact with linguistic concepts accessible to explicit awareness, and how these relations generate meaning. A novel method is introduced in which participants are asked to guess the location of picture tiles hidden in boxes placed in front or behind them (3A) or to their left or right (3B). Results demonstrate that in some instances guessing was assisted by the relative spatial locations of the boxes as concordant with the structure of particular temporal concepts. The pattern of results also suggests an interesting dynamic between implicit and explicit processes in the organization of abstract concepts and semantic representation. The discussion that follows explores how embodied and distributed implicit representations serve to ground more localized meanings (lexemes) in forms accessible to consciousness.