Effect of Acute Physical Activity on Interval Timing

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Timing is an integral part of physical activities. Walking as a routine form of physical activity might affect interval timing primarily in two different ways within the pacemaker–accumulator timing-theoretic framework: (1) by increasing the speed of the pacemaker due to its physiological effects; (2) by decreasing attention to time and consequently slowing the rate of temporal integration by serving as a secondary task. In order to elucidate the effect of movement on subjective time, in two different experiments we employed a temporal reproduction task conducted on the treadmill under four different encoding–decoding conditions: (1) encoding and reproducing (decoding) the duration while standing (rest); (2) encoding the duration at rest and reproducing it while moving: (3) both encoding and reproducing the duration while moving; and (4) encoding the duration while moving and reproducing it at rest. In the first experiment, participants were tested either in the 4 or the 8 km/h movement condition, whereas in the second experiment a larger sample was tested only in the 4 km/h movement condition. Data were de-trended to control for long-term performance drifts. In Experiment 1, overall durations encoded at rest and reproduced during motion were under-reproduced whereas durations encoded during motion and reproduced at rest were over-reproduced only in the 8 km/h condition. In Experiment 2, the same results were observed in the 4 km/h condition with a larger sample size. These effects on timing behavior provide support for the clock speed-driven effect of movement and contradicts the predictions of attention-based mediation.

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