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Joshua J. New, Brian J. Scholl; Subjective time dilation: Spatially local, object-based, or a global visual experience?. Journal of Vision 2009;9(2):4. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.2.4.
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Time can appear to slow down in certain brief real-life events—e.g. during car accidents or critical moments of athletes' performances. Such time dilation can also be produced to a smaller degree in the laboratory by ‘oddballs’ presented in series of otherwise identical stimuli. We explored the spatial distribution of subjective time dilation: Does time expand only for the oddball objects themselves, only for the local spatial region including the oddball, or for the entire visual field? Because real-life traumatic events provoke an apparently global visual experience of time expansion, we predicted—and observed—that a locally discrete oddball would also dilate the apparent duration of other concurrent events in other parts of the visual field. This ‘dilation at a distance’ was not diminished by increasing spatial separation between the oddball and target events, and was not influenced by manipulations of objecthood that drive object-based attention. In addition, behaviorally ‘urgent’ oddballs (looming objects) yielded time dilation, but visually similar receding objects did not. We interpret these results in terms of the influence of attention on time perception—where attention reflects general arousal and faster internal pacing rather than spatial or object-based selection, per se. As a result, attention influences subjective time dilation as a global visual experience.
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