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Behav Processes. 2017 May;138:152-159. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2017.03.005. Epub 2017 Mar 9.

Time dilation in children and adults: The idea of a slower internal clock in young children tested with different click frequencies.

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Université Clermont Auvergne, CNRS, Clermont-Ferrand, France. Electronic address:


This experiment examined the effect of a train of regular repetitive clicks of different frequencies (8Hz, 20Hz) on time judgment in a bisection task in children aged 5 and 8 years old and adults with two duration ranges (200/800 and 400/1600ms). Participants' scores on neurospychological tests assessing memory, information processing speed and different components of attention control were also measured. The results showed that a train of clicks produced a time dilation in the children as well as in the adults, with the result that the perceived duration was judged to last longer with than without clicks. However, the time dilation reached a maximum level at a lower click frequency value (8Hz) in the children than in the adults (20Hz). In addition, beyond this click value (8Hz), a reversal effect was observed in the youngest children, who responded "long" less often, while the time dilation was extended in the adults. In addition, while the differences in the time dilation between the click and the no-click condition were not correlated with the individual cognitive capacities, those that occurred when the click frequency increased from 8 to 20Hz were significantly correlated with individual capacities in terms of attention and working memory. The hypothesis of a slower internal clock in the younger children is discussed as are the attentional interference processes involved in the click effect on time judgment.


Clicks; Clock; Development; Time; Timing

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