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PLoS One. 2016 Jul 12;11(7):e0158921. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158921. eCollection 2016.

Timescale- and Sensory Modality-Dependency of the Central Tendency of Time Perception.

Author information

1
Department of Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.
2
Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences, Tokyo, Japan.

Abstract

When individuals are asked to reproduce intervals of stimuli that are intermixedly presented at various times, longer intervals are often underestimated and shorter intervals overestimated. This phenomenon may be attributed to the central tendency of time perception, and suggests that our brain optimally encodes a stimulus interval based on current stimulus input and prior knowledge of the distribution of stimulus intervals. Two distinct systems are thought to be recruited in the perception of sub- and supra-second intervals. Sub-second timing is subject to local sensory processing, whereas supra-second timing depends on more centralized mechanisms. To clarify the factors that influence time perception, the present study investigated how both sensory modality and timescale affect the central tendency. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to reproduce sub- or supra-second intervals, defined by visual or auditory stimuli. In the sub-second range, the magnitude of the central tendency was significantly larger for visual intervals compared to auditory intervals, while visual and auditory intervals exhibited a correlated and comparable central tendency in the supra-second range. In Experiment 2, the ability to discriminate sub-second intervals in the reproduction task was controlled across modalities by using an interval discrimination task. Even when the ability to discriminate intervals was controlled, visual intervals exhibited a larger central tendency than auditory intervals in the sub-second range. In addition, the magnitude of the central tendency for visual and auditory sub-second intervals was significantly correlated. These results suggest that a common modality-independent mechanism is responsible for the supra-second central tendency, and that both the modality-dependent and modality-independent components of the timing system contribute to the central tendency in the sub-second range.

PMID:
27404269
PMCID:
PMC4942040
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0158921
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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