In this experiment we explored the effect of music tempo on the perception of time. Musically trained and nontrained participants carried out a reproduction task with music clips of various durations and tempos. Results revealed that the reproduced durations were longer for fast-tempo music clips than for slow-tempo music clips of equal duration. In addition, short clips were more accurately reproduced compared to longer stimuli. Notably, the error in reproducing the duration of a stimulus was overall lower for musically trained than nontrained participants, but more so for short than long clips. Finally, the accuracy in estimating the duration of the music clips correlated positively with years of musical training, further suggesting that musical training is a critical variable for time estimation.
In this study we examined whether the exposure to speed-altered audio clips of speech-like stimuli can distort systematically the subjective sense of time. Participants listened to stimuli of varying durations and speeds and reproduced their durations. Results revealed that both speed and actual duration influenced the length of reproduced durations. In particular, participants reproduced durations as longer when they listened to fast compared to slow speech-like stimuli of the same actual duration. In addition, the reproduced durations of long stimuli deviated more from their veridical durations compared to those of short stimuli. Notably, a significant interaction indicated that the effect of speed was greater for stimuli of short than of long actual durations. We argue that listening to fast speech-like stimuli speeds up the pacemaker component of the internal clock, leading to overestimation of the actual duration. The implications of these findings for the theories of time perception are discussed.