Field dependence–independence differently affects retrospective time estimation and flicker-induced time dilation

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Field dependence–independence (FDI) is a stable dimension of individual functioning, transversal to different cognitive domains. While the role of some individual variables in time perception has received considerable attention, it is not clear whether and how FDI influences timing abilities. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that FDI differently affects timing performance depending on whether the task requires cognitive restructuring. Participants were assessed for FDI using the embedded figures test (EFT). They performed a prospective timing task, reproducing the duration of a flickering stimulus, and a retrospective timing task, estimating the duration of the task. We expected performance of field-dependent (FD) and field-independent (FI) individuals not to differ in the prospective task, since restructuring of task material is not needed to reproduce the stimulus duration. Conversely, we predicted that FI individuals should be more accurate than FD ones in the retrospective condition, involving restructuring skills. Results show that while both FD and FI individuals under-reproduced the stimulus duration in the prospective task, only FD participants significantly underestimated the duration of the timing task in the retrospective condition. These results suggest that differences across FD and FI individuals are apparent in timing only when the task requires high-level cognitive processing; conversely, these differences do not affect basic sensory processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1029
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 8 2019


  • Cognitive style
  • Field dependence
  • Interval reproduction
  • Retrospective time estimation
  • Time perception
  • Timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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