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    Time-space synaesthia -- a key navigation skill?
    From: Paul Saffo
    Date: 2010 Apr 01, 09:01 -0700

    I will bet that members of this list disproportionately exhibit time- 
    space synaesthesia.  And personally, I find this research comforting  
    as though I am not much of a navigator, I have spent my entire life  
    puzzled by the fact that I get blank looks from friends whenever I  
    describe how I visualize time.
    Time Lords discovered in California
        New Scientist magazine
        � 00:01 01 April 2010 by Rowan Hooper
    Surveying the geography of time (Image: Huw Evans/Rex Features)
    Time Lords walk among us. Two per cent of readers may be surprised to  
    discover that they are members of an elite group with the power to  
    perceive the geography of time.
    Sci-fi fans � Anglophile ones, at least � know that the coolest aliens  
    in the universe are Time Lords: time-travelling humanoids with the  
    ability to understand and perceive events throughout time and space.  
    Now it seems that people with a newly described condition have a  
    similar, albeit lesser ability: they experience time as a spatial  
    Synaesthesia is the condition in which the senses are mixed, so that a  
    sound or anumber has a colour, for example. In one version, the sense  
    of touch evokes emotions.
    To those variants we can now add time-space synaesthesia.
    I see� time
    "In general, these individuals perceive months of the year in circular  
    shapes, usually just as an image inside their mind's eye," says David  
    Brang of the department of psychology at the University of California,  
    San Diego.
    "These calendars occur in almost any possible shape, and many of the  
    synaesthetes actually experience the calendar projected out into the  
    real world."
    One of Brang's subjects was able to see the year as a circular ring  
    surrounding her body. The "ring" rotated clockwise throughout the year  
    so that the current month was always inside her chest with the  
    previous month right in front of her chest.
    Regenerating patterns
    Brang and colleagues recruited 183 students and asked them to  
    visualise the months of the year and construct this representation on  
    a computer screen. Four months later the students were shown a blank  
    screen and asked to select a position for each of the months. They  
    were prompted with a cue month � a randomly selected month placed as a  
    dot in the location where the student had originally placed it.
    Uncannily, four of the 183 students were found to be time-space  
    synaesthetes when they placed their months in a distinct spatial array  
    � such as a circle � that was consistent over the trials.
    A second test compared how well time-space synaesthetes and ordinary  
    humans could memorise an unfamiliar spatial calendar and reproduce it.  
    Time-space synaesthetes turned out to have much better recall than the  
    time-blind majority.
    Brang suspects that time-space synaesthesia happens when the neural  
    processes underlying spatial processing are unusually active. "This  
    enhanced processing would generalise to other functions of spatial  
    processing � mental rotation, map navigation, spatial manipulation,"  
    he says.
    Brang did not speculate on whether time-space synaesthetes could  
    regenerate, or if they have two hearts: both key characteristics of  
    Time Lords.
    Journal reference: Consciousness and Cognition, DOI: 10.1016/j.concog. 

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