Duration expansion at low luminance levels

Aurelio Bruno, Inci Ayhan, Alan Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Duration distortions have been shown to occur at the time of saccades and following high temporal frequency or contrast adaptation. Under all these conditions, changes in the temporal tuning of M neurons also occur, suggesting that there might be a link between the two phenomena. In order to explore this relationship further, we measured the apparent duration of visual stimuli in the dark, where the temporal impulse response has been reported to lengthen. We first measured a progressive shift and reduction of the occurrence of an apparent motion reversal as we decreased the luminance level, indicating a lengthening of the temporal impulse response. We then measured perceived duration at these luminance levels (0.75, 3, and 50 cd/m(2)) after matching for apparent contrast and temporal frequency. While perceived temporal frequency did not substantially differ across luminance levels, duration appeared expanded at the lowest luminance level relative to the highest by approximately 60 ms. Thus, we have shown that reduced luminance is associated with both a lengthening of the temporal impulse response and a duration expansion, linking the two and providing further evidence for a relationship between changes in the neuronal tuning in the early stages of the visual system and time perception.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2011


  • Adaptation, Ocular/physiology
  • Contrast Sensitivity/physiology
  • Humans
  • Lighting
  • Motion Perception/physiology
  • Saccades/physiology
  • Time Perception/physiology

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