A purely visual adaptation to motion can differentiate between perceptual timing and interval timing

Aurelio Massimo Bruno*, Federico Segala, Daniel Hart Baker

*Corresponding author for this work

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It is unclear whether our brain extracts and processes time information using a single-centralized mechanism or through a network of distributed mechanisms, which are specific for modality and time range. Visual adaptation has previously been used to investigate the mechanisms underlying time perception for millisecond intervals. Here, we investigated whether a well-known duration after-effect induced by motion adaptation in the sub-second range (referred to as ‘perceptual timing’) also occurs in the supra-second range (called ‘interval timing’), which is more accessible to cognitive control. Participants judged the relative duration of two intervals after spatially localized adaptation to drifting motion. Adaptation substantially compressed the apparent duration of a 600 ms stimulus in the adapted location, whereas it had a much weaker effect on a 1200 ms interval. Discrimination thresholds after adaptation improved slightly relative to baseline, implying that the duration effect cannot be ascribed to changes in attention or to noisier estimates. A novel computational model of duration perception can explain both these results and the bidirectional shifts of perceived duration after adaptation reported in other studies. We suggest that we can use adaptation to visual motion as a tool to investigate the mechanisms underlying time perception at different time scales.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20230415
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2023

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