Innate and Cultural Spatial Time: A Developmental Perspective

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 11 (2017)
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Abstract

We reviewed literature to understand when a spatial map for time is available in the brain. We carefully defined the concepts of metrical map of time and of conceptual representation of time as the mental time line (MTL) in order to formulate our position. It is that both metrical map and conceptual representation of time are spatial in nature. The former should be innate, related to motor/implicit timing, it should represent all magnitudes with an analogic and bi-dimensional structure. The latter MTL should be learned, available at about 8–10 years-old and related to cognitive/explicit time. It should have uni-dimensional, linear and directional structure (left-to-right in Western culture). We bear the centrality of the development of number cognition, of time semantic concepts and of reading/writing habits for the development of ordinality and linearity of the MTL.

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