The automaticity of vantage point shifts within a synaesthetes’ spatial calendar


Michelle Jarick, Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue W., Waterloo, Ontario N2L 1C3, Canada (e-mail:


Time–space synaesthetes report that time units (e.g., months, days, hours) occupy idiosyncratic spatial locations. For the synaesthete (L), the months of the year are projected out in external space in the shape of a ‘scoreboard 7’, where January to July extend across the top from left to right and August to December make up the vertical segment from top to bottom. Interestingly, L can change the mental vantage point (MVP) from where she views her month-space depending on whether she sees or hears the month name. We used a spatial cueing task to demonstrate that L's attention could be directed to locations within her time–space and change vantage points automatically – from trial to trial. We also sought to eliminate any influence of strategy on L's performance by shortening the interval between the cue and target onset to only 150 ms, and have the targets fall in synaesthetically cued locations on only 15% of trials. If L's performance was attributable to intentionally using the cue to predict target location, these manipulations should eliminate any cueing effects. In two separate experiments, we found that L still showed an attentional bias consistent with her synaesthesia. Thus, we attribute L's rapid and resilient cueing effects to the automaticity of her spatial forms.