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Analog and Digital Windowing of Attention in Language, Visual Perception, and the Brain

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This article theoretically bridges findings of linguistics, of visual perception, and of brain studies to generate novel interdisciplinary research ideas for attention. Specifically, this article lays out striking parallels of the windowing (scope) of attention in spatial cognition underlying language (as outlined by Talmy) and in spatial cognition underlying visual perception (as outlined by Laeng and colleagues). In both language and visual perception one finds analog windowing of attention and two basic forms of digital windowing of attention, one-portion windowing and two-portions split windowing. Additionally, linguistic evidence is provided that all basic attention-windowing types found in spatial cognition underlying language are also metaphorically mapped from spatial to temporal cognition—albeit there is some cross-cultural variation showing that not all time windowing types are found in all languages. Furthermore, analog and digital windowing is placed in the context of neural networks. Implications for future research are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Chair of Cognitive Science, ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, ; 2: Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway,


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