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  • Author or Editor: Darren Rhodes x
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Time is a fundamental dimension of human perception, cognition and action, as the processing and cognition of temporal information is essential for everyday activities and survival. Innumerable studies have investigated the perception of time over the last 100 years, but the neural and computational bases for the processing of time remains unknown. Extant models of time perception are discussed before the proposition of a unified model of time perception that relates perceived event timing with perceived duration. The distinction between perceived event timing and perceived duration provides the current for navigating a river of contemporary approaches to time perception. Recent work has advocated a Bayesian approach to time perception. This framework has been applied to both duration and perceived timing, where prior expectations about when a stimulus might occur in the future (prior distribution) are combined with current sensory evidence (likelihood function) in order to generate the perception of temporal properties (posterior distribution). In general, these models predict that the brain uses temporal expectations to bias perception in a way that stimuli are ‘regularized’ i.e. stimuli look more like what has been seen before. As such, the synthesis of perceived timing and duration models is of theoretical importance for the field of timing and time perception.

Open Access
In: Timing & Time Perception

An isochronous sequence is a series of repeating events with the same inter-onset-interval. A common finding is that as the length of a sequence increases, so does temporal sensitivity to irregularities — that is, the detection of deviations from isochrony is better with a longer sequence. Several theoretical accounts exist in the literature as to how the brain processes sequences for the detection of irregularities, yet there remains to be a systematic comparison of the predictions that such accounts make. To compare the predictions of these accounts, we asked participants to report whether the last stimulus of a regularly-timed sequence appeared ‘earlier’ or ‘later’ than expected. Such task allowed us to separately analyse bias and performance. Sequences lengths (3, 4, 5 or 6 beeps) were either randomly interleaved or presented in separate blocks. We replicate previous findings showing that temporal sensitivity increases with longer sequence in the interleaved condition but not in the blocked condition (where performance is higher overall). Results also indicate that there is a consistent bias in reporting whether the last stimulus is isochronous (irrespectively of how many stimuli the sequence is composed of). Such result is consistent with a perceptual acceleration of stimuli embedded in isochronous sequences. From the comparison of the models’ predictions we determine that the improvement in sensitivity is best captured by an averaging of successive estimates, but with an element that limits performance improvement below statistical optimality. None of the models considered, however, provides an exhaustive explanation for the pattern of results found.

In: Timing & Time Perception