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Seminar: 2/25 - Kurt Stocker, UC Berkeley

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  5101 Tolman

Mental Time Imagery

Mental time has been investigated in pioneering ways by Leonard Talmy, Herbert Clark, and Endel Tulving. It will be shown how one can theoretically unify these three approaches by using Talmyan concept structuring as a basic theoretical framework. The
theoretical strategy is to use linguistic expressions about time (cross-related events) as an entree to conceptual structures about time that seem deeper than language itself. This strategy is in accordance with the many recent findings that show that certain conceptualizations observed in language also exist in mental representations that are more basic than language itself. The thus revealed temporal cognitive structures are most readily characterized in terms of mental imagery, more specifically as a system of visual imagery structuring acting as a scaffolding across which contentful material can be splayed. In order to make the abstract domain of time accessible to imagery, this system often spatializes time. Basic types how the self (also called ego or observer) spatializes mental time will be presented. It will also be shown how characterizing mental time in this way leads to specific empirical predictions about mental simulation and neural processing. Additionally it will be explored how the proposed mental time structures can contribute to the current debate if mental time travel is a capacity that is uniquely human or a capacity that also some animals might have.