Participants performed on a temporal generalization task with standard durations being either 4 or 8 s, and comparison durations ranging from 2.5 to 5.5, or 5 to 11 s. They were required to count during all stimulus presentations, and counts were recorded as spacebar presses. Generalization gradients around both standard values peaked at the standard, but the gradient from the 8-s condition was steeper. Measured counts had low variance, both within trials and between trials, and a start process, which was different from the counting sequence, could also be identified in data. A computer model assuming that a comparison duration was identified as the standard when the count value for the comparison was one that had previously occurred for a standard fitted the temporal generalization gradients well. The model was also applied to some published data on temporal reproduction with counting, and generally fitted data adequately. The model makes a distinction between the variance of the count unit from one trial to another, and the counts within the trial, and this distinction was related to the overall variance of behaviours resulting from counting, and the ways in which variability of timing measures change with the duration timed.
This article discusses the contents of two of the earliest publications about the experimental psychology of time, those from and . Höring’s thesis, conducted under Vierordt’s supervision, involved the discrimination of the relative rates of successive periods of beats of a metronome. In general, timing sensitivity decreased as the beats slowed, thus violating Weber’s Law of constant sensitivity for time. conducted a range of experiments, using metronomes, pendulums, and different sorts of apparatus of his own design. He, likewise, found violations of Weber’s Law, with the Weber fraction following a U-shaped function of duration, with a minimum (of around 5%) at 500 or 600 ms. Mach also conducted research on the smallest temporal intervals that could be distinguished, following an earlier suggestion by Czermak, and reported that the smallest values were obtained with the auditory sense. Mach’s article also discussed the perception of rhythms, and the possibility that different animal species show different sensitivity to time. Some modern work on Weber’s Law and timing is briefly discussed at the end of the article.
This article presents a translation into English of most of a publication by the French philosopher Paul Janet, which appeared in 1877 (Janet, P.,. Une illusion d’optique interne. Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Étranger, 3, 497–502). Here, it is proposed that the rate of passage of subjective time is proportional to the age of the person making the judgement. Janet further proposes that this proportionality will be most marked when judging time intervals remote from the present, such as past years or decades. He also suggests that the ‘acceleration’ of apparent passage of time with age can appear to reverse when old people consider the length of time that they believe to be left in their lives. A short commentary discusses how results from modern research on apparent passage of time and age can be linked to Janet’s proposal.
This article discusses research on time perception published by three women (Beatrice Edgell, Josephine Nash Curtis, and Mary Sturt) active in the early years of the 20th. Century. Edgell (On time judgment, Am. J. Psychol., 1903) was involved in psychophysical studies on the perception of brief durations, in the tradition of Vierordt and other mostly German authors. Curtis (Duration and the temporal judgment, Am. J. Psychol., 1916) provided detailed reports of introspections from participants performing timing tasks, in the manner of her supervisor, Titchener. Sturt (via the article by Oakden & Sturt, The development of the knowledge of time in children, Br. J. Psychol., 1922, an article by Sturt herself, Experiments on the estimate of duration, Br. J. Psychol. 1923, and her book The Psychology of Time, 1925) was involved in extensive developmental studies on the understanding of everyday time concepts, such as years, months, and dates, as well as other work involving variations in time judgements as a function of different conditions, such as when receiving painful stimulation.
People produced time intervals of 500 to 1250 ms, with accurate feedback in ms provided after each production. The mean times produced tracked the target times closely, and the coefficient of variation (standard deviation/mean) declined with increasing target time. The mean absolute change from one trial to another, and its standard deviation, measures of trial-by-trial change, also increased with target time. A model of feedback was fitted to all four measures. It assumed that the time produced resulted from a combination of a scalar timing process and a non-timing process. Although the non-timing process was on average invariant with target time, the timing process was assumed to be sensitive to feedback, in two different ways. If the previous production was close to the target the model repeated it (a repeat process), but if it was further away the next production was adjusted by an amount related to the discrepancy between the previous production and the target (an adjust process). The balance between the two was governed by a threshold, which was on average constant, and it was further assumed that the relative variability of the repeat process was lower than that of the adjust process. The model produced output which fitted three of the four measures well (average deviation of 3 or 4%) but fitted the standard deviation of change less well. Reducing the magnitude of the non-timing process produced output which conformed approximately to scalar timing, and the model could also mimic data resulting from the provision of inaccurate feedback.
The pacemaker-counter model is the most prominent psychological account of timing and time perception. It has been often assumed that an internal pacemaker generates pulses according to a Poisson process and that these pulses are accumulated over time. According to Scalar Expectancy Theory (SET), the number of accumulated pulses represents the elapsed duration to be timed. Although the Poisson process provides a plausible cognitive and physiological mechanism for timing and time perception, its implementation into the framework of SET remains a theoretical challenge. The present contribution shows that a merger of and counting models enables such an implementation, which can account for Weber’s law and scalar timing. We demonstrate this for the fundamental principles of counting and timing, as well as for a temporal bisection task.
Studies of judgements of the durations of filled auditory and visual stimuli were reviewed, and some previously unpublished data were analysed. Data supported several conclusions. Firstly, auditory stimuli have longer subjective durations than visual ones, with visual stimuli commonly being judged as having 80–90% of the duration of auditory ones. Secondly, the effect was multiplicative, with the auditory/visual difference increasing as the intervals became longer. Only a small number of exceptions to both these conclusions were found. Thirdly, differences in variability between judgements of auditory and visual stimuli derived from most procedures were small and sometimes not statistically significant, although differences almost always involved visual stimuli producing more variable judgements. Currently, the most viable explanation of the effects appears to be some sort of pacemaker-counter model with higher pacemaker speed for auditory stimuli, although this approach cannot, in its present form, deal quantitatively with all the findings usually obtained.
This article is initially focussed on Warren Meck’s early work on temporal reference memory, in particular the idea that some drug manipulations affect ‘memory storage speed’. Meck’s original notion had links to an earlier literature, not usually related to timing, the study of memory consolidation. We present some examples of the use of the idea of memory storage speed from Meck’s early work, and show how it was abandoned in favour of a ‘memory constant’, K*, not related to storage speed per se. Some arguments against the idea of memory storage speed are presented, as well as discussion of a small amount of research on consolidation of memories for time. Later work on temporal reference memory, including rapid acquisition and interference effects, is also discussed.