Space and Time are Mutually Contagious in Sound


Time is talked about in terms of space more frequently than the opposite is true. Past experimental evidence suggests that this asymmetry runs deep, with results suggesting that temporal concepts and percepts find structure in spatial representations but not vice versa. However, these studies frequently involve verbal and/or visual stimuli. Because vision makes a privileged contribution to spatial processing it is unclear whether these results speak to a deep asymmetry between time and space, or a modality specific one. The present study was motivated by this ambiguity and a complementary correspondence between audition and temporal processing. In an auditory perceptual task, duration and spatial displacement judgments were shown to be mutually contagious. Irrelevant temporal information influenced spatial judgments and vice versa with a larger effect of time on space. The results suggest that the perceptual asymmetry between domains does not generalize across modalities and that time is not fundamentally more abstract than space.

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