Poster K Vidaud Laperriere P Charras TRF2017 .pdf

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Spatial task difficulty modulates
space-time interference
Univ Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, Univ. Montpellier,
EPSYLON EA 4556, F34000, Montpellier, France

Kévin Vidaud Laperrière & Pom Charras



Stimulus duration on the estimates of its spatial characteristics, "Tau Effect" (Helson, H. King, 1931). Conversely, estimating the duration
of a stimulus may be influenced by the spatial characteristics of this stimulus, "Kappa Effect" (Cohen, Hansel & Sylvester, 1953). The
longer the duration, the longer the perceived spatial distance is (Tau effect), and conversely for the Kappa effect, longer the covered
distance, the longer the perceived duration is. Two major theories :
"A Theory Of Magnitude" (ATOM, Cantlon,

"Theory of Metaphor" (MT, Casasanto &
Boroditsky, 2008)

One system estimate time, space and
numerosity. Reciprocal and symmetrical
interference between magnitudes.
Kappa effect = Tau effect.

Preponderant role to space. Ability to estimate
time and numbers depends on our ability to
estimate space. Existence of the Tau effect ?
Kappa Effect > Tau Effect.


The duration perception may be more demanding of short term
memory and executive ressources (Ogden & al., 2017) ==> difficulty
to discriminate stimuli modulates the strength of the Kappa and Tau
effects, in spatial and temporal bisection tasks using the visual


Repeated measures ANOVAs were conducted on the proportion of « long » responses, with
the variables « Relevant dimension » and « Irrelevant dimension » (Duration for spatial
bisection task, and Distance for temporal bisection task) (2 levels), for the two groups of
participants in the spatial and temporal bisection tasks :

First, as we expected, the spatial task is harder for the "Hard" group than for the
"Easy" group (F(4, 60)=5.670, p<.001, η²p=.274).

Proportion of "long" responses

32 participants / 2 groups / Temporal and spatial bisection
tasks / two separate blocks on a laptop / Judgment on
duration or distance, as short or long.
Material : two dots were successively flashed at various
locations (5 distances). The time interval between the two
stimuli was also manipulated (5 durations).

«Easy» group

«Hard» group


Distance 1 Distance 2 Distance 3 Distance 4 Distance 5

Figure 2 : "Long" responses for the Easy and Hard spatial task as a function of Distance in
the spatial bisection task

Interferences effects :
➢ "Easy" group : Significant Kappa effect (F(1, 15)=28.320,
significant Tau effect (F(1, 15)=3.432, p=.084, η²p=.186).
"Hard" group : Significant Kappa effect (F(1,
significant Tau effect (F(1, 15)=37.633, p<.001, η²p=.715).

Figure 1 : Represents a schematic trial

The 2 groups performed the tasks but differed in terms of task
difficulty. The "easy" group had spatial stimuli that were easier
to discriminate than the spatial stimuli of the "hard" group :

p<.001, η²p=.624),

but no

15)=19.600, p<.001, η²p=.566),


Kappa effect in the "Easy" group is higher than the one in the "Hard" group (F(1,
15)=7.783, p=.014, η²p=.342).
➢ "Hard" group : the Tau effect is significatively higher than the Kappa effect (F(1,
15)=10.584, p=.005, η²p=.414).

Proportion of "long" responses

Irrelevant dimension 1

Irrelevant dimension 5











Figure 3 : Strength of Tau and Kappa effects


The manipulation of distances
discrimiation difficulty is effective
in our experimental paradigm

- The Kappa effect
is attenuated.
- The Tau effect

Cantlon JF, Platt ML, Brannon EM. Beyond the number domain. Trends Cogn Sci 2009. February;13(2):83–91.
Casasanto, D., & Boroditsky, L. (2008). Time in the mind: Using space to think about time. Cognition, 106, 579–593.
Cohen J., Hansel C. E. M., Sylvester J. D. (1953). A new phenomenon in time judgment. Nature,172 , 901.

The automaticy of spatial processing
might be disrupted in the Hard task
difficulty condition. (V. Dormal &
Pesenti, 2012).

favor of AtoM
(B. Martin &
al., 2017).

Dormal, V., & Pesenti, M. (2012). Processing numerosity, length and duration in a threedimensional Stroop-like task: Towards a gradient of processing automaticity?
Psychological Research.
Helson, H. (1930). The tau effect – an example of psychological relativity. Science, 71 , 536–537.
Martin, B., Wiener, M., & van Wassenhove, V. (2017). A Bayesian Perspective on Accumulation in the Magnitude System. Scientific Reports, 7.
Ogden, R. S., Samuels, M., Simmons, F., Wearden, J., & Montgomery, C. (2017). The differential recruitment of short-term memory and executive functions during
time, number, and length perception: An individual differences approach. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-14.

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