Wheatley, Parkinson and their colleague Shari Liu examined only 15 people for this study, so it's not clear these overlaps would show up in all people. (For example, I got curious if this would happen in people who spoke languages that don't talk about social and temporal distance using physical distance words. No one has studied this yet, Wheatley says, but it's a developing area of research.) If the overlaps are common to many people, they support a fascinating hypothesis in neuroscience. Some scientists think that as humans evolved to be more sophisticated—to plan, to maintain social relationships—the brain kept up by repurposing more ancient pathways. Need to give humans a way to think about social ties? Why not put the part of the brain dedicated to spatial distances to work to do it?