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Time in the creative mind

Daniel Alcaraz on gesture, time, and mathematics (with Martha Alibali, Wisconsin-Madison)

Rosa Illán on language, time, and space (with Rafael Núñez, UC San Diego)

See the post on time gesture in our research blog
Graffiti in Amsterdam, May 2018

TIME is the standard example of a conceptual domain that needs to be conceptualized in terms of more structured knowledge, such as motion (Monday is approaching) or quantification (running out of time, give me a minute). But, are we simply transferring information from the concrete to the abstract, or is this a more dynamic and complex process?

To study how temporal meanings emerge from cognitive processes, CREATIME studies time expressions across different modalities (speech, text, gesture, graphics, images) and discourse types (conversation, literature, television, cinema, music). We combine quantitative research across textual and multimodal corpora, linguistic and literary analysis, studies of compositional practices in music, and behavioral experiments. 

Check out CREATIME’s datasets for speech-gesture co-occurrence in temporal expressions and for semantic annotation of the figurative language of time in poetry.

Recent publications

Selected talks and events

  • Illán Castillo, R & Valenzuela, J. Lexicalization patterns in spatio-temporal metaphors: a corpus-based study. 14th RaAM Conference, Metaphor and Space. Vilnius University, 23-26 June 2021. 

  • Alcaraz Carrión, D. From the frequent to the creative: Time gestures in multimodal communication. Oxford International Multimodal Communication Centre, October, 2020.

  • Valenzuela, J. & Illán Castillo, R. A corpus-based look at Ego and Time-moving metaphors. 11th Conference of the Spanish Society of Cognitive Linguistics (AELCO), University of Córdoba, October 2018.

  • Alcaraz Carrión, D. Distant time distant gesture: Connection between distance in space and distance in time .  11th Conference of the Spanish Society of Cognitive Linguistics (AELCO), University of Córdoba. October 2018.

  • Pagán Cánovas, C. Time in the creative mind: Understanding cognition and creativity through the expression of time across modalities. Graduate School Guest Lecture, VU Amsterdam, 25 May 2018. 

  • Valenzuela, J. & Pagán Cánovas, C. Gesture frequency in a large multimodal corpus. International Cognitive Linguistics Conference: ICLC-14. Tartu, 10-14 Jul 2017.

  • WHOLE CREATIME TEAM. CREATIME: Creativity and cognition in the representation of time across modalities. Panel at the International Conference on Multimodal Communication, Osnabrück 9-11 June 2017.

  • Pagán Cánovas, C., Santiago, J. & Valenzuela, J. Symposium The Spatialization of Time: Crossing the Boundaries of Modality, Culture, and Literary Genres. ICPS 2017, Vienna, 23-25 Mar 2017.

  • WHOLE CREATIME TEAM. Time concepts and their expression. CREATIME workshop at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, May 11-12, 2017.


CREATIME is funded by a Knowledge Generation Grant from Spain’s Ministry of Science (PGC2018-097658-B-I00) to Cristóbal Pagán and Javier Valenzuela. The multimodal data science part of our project (in collaboration with the Red Hen Lab) has also received a Grant for Specific Research Needs and a Grant for Fostering International Research from the University of Murcia.

Cristóbal Pagán also holds a Ramón y Cajal Grant, Spain’s top early-career tenure-track scheme, which funds part of his activities in CREATIME.

Daniel Alcaraz is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Murcia and the Cognitive Development & Communication Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, thanks to a postdoctoral fellowship from the Séneca Foundation, Regional Government of Murcia. 

Rosa Illán is currently a doctoral researcher at the University of Murcia, funded by a Predoctoral Fellowship from the Séneca Foundation. She has also received a Fulbright Fellowship to be visiting researcher at the Cognitive Science Department of the University of California San Diego.

Previously, the project was funded by a grant from the Excelencia Program of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness to Inés Olza and Cristóbal Pagán (ref. FFI2015-70876-P) and a grant from the Séneca Foundation of the Murcia Regional Government to Javier Valenzuela. Daniel Alcaraz was a CREATIME postdoctoral fellow under the “On the move” scheme funded by the SRUK and, before that, a CREATIME-affiliated pre-doctoral fellow funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) of the UK.  Cristóbal Pagán held a CREATIME-focused EURIAS fellowship from NetIas and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in 2017-2018.