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Nicola Binetti, Francesca Lecce, Fabrizio Doricchi; Time-dilation and time-contraction in an anisochronous and anisometric visual scenery. Journal of Vision 2012;12(7):8. doi: 10.1167/12.7.8.
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Several studies show that visual stimuli traveling at higher velocities are overestimated with respect to slower, or stationary, stimuli of equivalent physical duration. This effect—time dilation—relates more in general to several accounts highlighting a quantitative relationship between the amount of changes a stimulus is subject to and the perceived duration: faster stimuli, subject to a greater number of changes in space, lead to overestimated durations of displacement. In the present paper we provide evidence of a new illusory effect, in which the apparent duration of a sensory event is affected by the way a constant number of changes are delivered in time, or in time and space. Participants judged accelerating and decelerating sequences of stationary flickering stimuli (Experiments 1 and 3) and accelerating and decelerating horizontally drifting visual stimuli (Experiment 2) on the fronto-parallel plane. Acceleration and deceleration were achieved by irregular sequencing of events in time (anisochronous flicker rate) or irregular sequencing of events in time and space (anisochronous and/or anisometric drift). Despite being characterized by the same amounts of visual changes, accelerating and decelerating sequences lead to opposite duration biases (underestimation and overestimation errors, respectively). We refer to this effect in terms of ATI: Aniso-Time-Illusion. This bias was observed in both subsecond (760 ms) and suprasecond ranges (1900 ms). These data highlight how the spatio-temporal evolution of dynamic visual events, asides the overall quantity of changes they are subject to, affect the perceived amount of time they require to unfold.
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