Language and event recall in memory for time

AbstractWe remember and talk about events as unfolding over time. When recalling a recent past event, we are often able to recollect its duration and mentally reproduce its component actions, as if replaying the event in our mind. However, key aspects of duration memory are poorly understood, in particular, how event memories map onto clock time and how this mapping is modulated by language. Indeed, we do not perceive and remember objective clock time, unless we pay attention to clocks. Instead, we build event representations that are not replicas of our experiences but are rather temporally compressed, and thus do not often coincide with the real time it took these experiences to unfold. Here, we investigate the relationship between time, memory and language by examining how people recall and mentally reproduce (replay) events that were conceptualized through language. We specifically ask two main questions. First, what determines the duration and clock accuracy of event reproductions from memory. Second, how these reproductions are modulated by linguistic descriptions, thus potentially leading to distorted reproductions.

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