Implicit, predictive timing draws upon the same scalar representation of time as explicit timing

Federica Piras, Jennifer T. Coull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It is not yet known whether the scalar properties of explicit timing are also displayed by more implicit, predictive forms of timing. We investigated whether performance in both explicit and predictive timing tasks conformed to the two psychophysical properties of scalar timing: the Psychophysical law and Weber's law. Our explicit temporal generalization task required overt estimation of the duration of an empty interval bounded by visual markers, whereas our temporal expectancy task presented visual stimuli at temporally predictable intervals, which facilitated motor preparation thus speeding target detection. The Psychophysical Law and Weber's Law were modeled, respectively, by (1) the functional dependence between mean subjective time and real time (2) the linearity of the relationship between timing variability and duration. Results showed that performance for predictive, as well as explicit, timing conformed to both psychophysical properties of interval timing. Both tasks showed the same linear relationship between subjective and real time, demonstrating that the same representational mechanism is engaged whether it is transferred into an overt estimate of duration or used to optimise sensorimotor behavior. Moreover, variability increased with increasing duration during both tasks, consistent with a scalar representation of time in both predictive and explicit timing. However, timing variability was greater during predictive timing, at least for durations greater than 200 msec, and ascribable to temporal, rather than non-temporal, mechanisms engaged by the task. These results suggest that although the same internal representation of time was used in both tasks, its external manifestation varied as a function of temporal task goals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere18203
JournalPLoS One
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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