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Proc Biol Sci. 2012 Nov 7;279(1746):4399-406. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Ready steady slow: action preparation slows the subjective passage of time.

Author information

1
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, UK. n.hagura@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Professional ball game players report the feeling of the ball 'slowing-down' before hitting it. Because effective motor preparation is critical in achieving such expert motor performance, these anecdotal comments imply that the subjective passage of time may be influenced by preparation for action. Previous reports of temporal illusions associated with action generally emphasize compensation for suppressed sensory signals that accompany motor commands. Here, we show that the time is perceived slowed-down during preparation of a ballistic reaching movement before action, involving enhancement of sensory processing. Preparing for a reaching movement increased perceived duration of a visual stimulus. This effect was tightly linked to action preparation, because the amount of temporal dilation increased with the information about the upcoming movement. Furthermore, we showed a reduction of perceived frequency for flickering stimuli and an enhanced detection of rapidly presented letters during action preparation, suggesting increased temporal resolution of visual perception during action preparation. We propose that the temporal dilation during action preparation reflects the function of the brain to maximize the capacity of sensory information-acquisition prior to execution of a ballistic movement. This strategy might facilitate changing or inhibiting the planned action in response to last-minute changes in the external environment.

PMID:
22951740
PMCID:
PMC3479796
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2012.1339
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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