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Thomas H. Rammsayer, Martin Verner; Larger visual stimuli are perceived to last longer from time to time: The internal clock is not affected by nontemporal visual stimulus size. Journal of Vision 2015;15(3):5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.3.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Performance on interval timing is often explained by the assumption of an internal clock based on neural counting. According to this account, a neural pacemaker generates pulses, and the number of pulses relating to a physical time interval is recorded by a counter. Thus, the number of accumulated pulses is the internal representation of this interval. Several studies demonstrated that large visual stimuli are perceived to last longer than smaller ones presented for the same duration. The present study was designed to investigate whether nontemporal visual stimulus size directly affects the internal clock. For this purpose, a temporal reproduction task was applied. Sixty participants were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions with stimulus size being experimentally varied within either the target or the reproduction interval. A direct effect of nontemporal stimulus size on the pacemaker-counter system should become evident irrespective of whether stimulus size was experimentally varied within the target or the reproduction interval. An effect of nontemporal stimulus size on reproduced duration only occurred when stimulus size was varied during the target interval. This finding clearly argues against the notion that nontemporal visual stimulus size directly affects the internal clock. Furthermore, our findings ruled out a decisional bias as a possible cause of the observed differential effect of stimulus size on reproduced duration. Rather the effect of stimulus size appeared to originate from the memory stage of temporal information processing at which the timing signal from the pacemaker-counter component is encoded in reference memory.
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