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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2017 May;43(5):971-985. doi: 10.1037/xhp0000370. Epub 2017 Mar 2.

Temporal binding and internal clocks: No evidence for general pacemaker slowing.


The perception of time is distorted by many factors (e.g., arousal, temperature, age etc.), but is it possible that causality would affect our perception of time? We investigate timing changes in the temporal binding effect, which refers to a subjective shortening of the interval between actions and their outcomes. Four experiments investigated whether binding may be due to variations in the rate of an internal clock. Specifically, we asked whether binding reflects changes to a general timing system, or a dedicated clock unique to causal sequences. We developed a novel experimental paradigm (embedded interval estimation procedure) in which participants made temporal judgments of either causal or noncausal intervals, or the duration of an event embedded within that interval. Stimuli and modality were combined factorially, with interval markers and embedded events being either visual or auditory. Although we replicated the temporal binding effect, we found no evidence for commensurate changes to time perception of the embedded event, which suggests that temporal binding is effected by changes to a specific and dedicated, rather than a general clock system. (PsycINFO Database Record.

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