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Michel Failing, Jan Theeuwes; Reward Alters Perception of Time. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):449. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/15.12.449.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Classic studies have demonstrated an important role of attention in perception of time. Which stimuli enjoy attentional priority has also been shown to be affected by reward. For instance, recent studies showed that stimuli associated with relatively high reward are attentionally prioritized over stimuli associated with low or no reward. The question we addressed in the present study is whether a reward association also affects perception of time. Here participants had to perform a prospective timing task using temporal oddballs. In this task six standard stimuli (e.g. black circle) each displayed for a fixed duration (500 ms) and one colored oddball (e.g. red circle) displayed for varying durations (350-650 ms), were shown in succession at the center of fixation. Participants had to indicate whether they perceived the oddball to last shorter or longer in time than the standard stimuli. In three experiments we manipulated whether the color of the oddball (exp 1 and 3) or the color of the standard (exp 2) signaled whether reward could be earned for a correct response. The color indicated how much reward could be earned (high, low or no). To assess how reward affects the temporal perception of the oddball, psychometric curves were estimated. The results showed that participants perceived an oddball signaling relatively higher reward to last longer than the standards compared to when the oddball signaled lower reward. However, when reward was signaled by the standards and not by the oddball, the duration perception of the oddball remained unaffected. We argue that by signaling a relatively higher reward, a stimulus becomes more salient thus modulating attentional deployment towards it and distorting how it is perceived in time.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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