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Ulrich Weger, Jay Pratt; Time-words guide spatial attention. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):447. doi: 10.1167/7.9.447.
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Visuo-spatial cuing effects have been obtained with various types of cues such as arrows, eye-gaze or sudden onsets. Here we test whether the spatial associations of temporal cues also cause a visual orienting response. The representation of time often implies a spatial association, and for people from many Western societies this association goes such that temporally earlier events are associated with left-side space while temporally later events are associated with right-side space. In our study we tested whether this association also causes a visual orienting response. A time word (e.g. “yesterday”, “tomorrow”) appeared in the middle of the screen, followed by a target in either the left- or right-side periphery. Word cues did indeed facilitate target detection, such that left-side targets were responded to faster after word-cues referring to the past while right-side targets were responded to faster after word-cues referring to the future. The results indicate that there is indeed an association between the representation of time and space and that this association can influence the orientation of visuo-spatial attention.
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